Defense IT & Cloud Computing

DISA looking for ways to speed JIE roll out

Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, stressed that his agency’s top IT initiative is about more than technology deployment, adding that Joint Information Environment incorporates factors ranging from military tactics to culture.

Hawkins’ overview came during a DISA industry forecast at Fort Meade, Md., on Aug. 9. He also stressed that the agency is currently focusing on the ability to quickly deliver new IT capabilities like JIE “in sprints.”

As it seeks to consolidate data centers and roll out enterprise services via the cloud, Hawkins said DISA will seek “exploitation of the enterprise” to deliver unified capabilities, mobility, a secure enterprise architecture and other network capabilities. Unified capabilities are described as an everything-over-IP network infrastructure for the future connected battlefield. A key goal during development is to converge voice, video and “collaboration services” across the military services, DISA officials said.

Stressing that the battlefield is evolving as fast as technological change, Hawkins warned that DOD acquisition and testing of new systems “lags demand.” As the integrator and “synchronizer” of JIE and other networking efforts, he said DISA’s challenge is to shift from an organization-based to an enterprise management approach to network deployment.

To accomplish this, the DISA director said he expects some reassignments among senior agency personnel along with “functional realignments that will enable a more responsive and JIE-aligned DISA.”

Hawkins also forecast a “greater emphasis on efficiency and savings from enterprise solutions” that would allow DISA to “pivot on delivery of capability [and] technology.” The goal is delivering new IT capabilities “in months, not years,” he stressed.

That capability along with streamlined acquisition will allow DISA to “mature the JIE,” Hawkins predicted.

One element of DISA’s acquisition strategy for JIE is leveraging commercial IT, including storage, commercial cloud services and tools like application stores and widgets, added DISA Component Acquisition Executive Jennifer Carter. She said DISA acquisition will emphasize “new mission-specific capabilities [that] are more agile and quick to develop because [a] standard infrastructure is available.”

In order to meet Hawkins’ directive to speed delivery of new IT capabilities, Carter said DOD wants to form industry partnerships to leverage commercial technologies. For example, the goal of streamlined DISA review and approval process for commercial hardware, apps and operating systems is delivery in as few as 30 days.

Among DISA’s industry needs are “security built into products” and “continued development of enabled secure mobile applications,” Carter told executives. She added that DISA must develop a plan “to become a [IT] developer with industry.”

Upcoming DISA contracts for mobile infrastructure include a “gateway procurement,” with a solicitation expected to be released in the fall and a contract award by early 2014, Carter said. A request for information for a separate “mobile applications enterprise solutions” acquisition is scheduled to be released this fall, but Carter said the timing of a formal solicitation has yet to be determined.

Addressing unified capabilities, Carter said DISA needs industry’s help to cut the cost of buying and operating new IP-based services. She also stressed faster delivery while shifting services to the cloud in order to migrate unified capabilities to mobile devices. To that end, DISA has formed a partnership with the Army to buy the building blocks for unified capabilities. The agency expects a contract award during fiscal 2014.

Emphasizing the need for speed, Carter said “budget pressures are increasing the need to get there quickly.”

About the Author

George Leopold is a contributing editor for Defense Systems and author of Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom."Connect with him on Twitter at @gleopold1.

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