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An Update On DoD’s Ambitious Joint Information Environment

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The Department of Defense and its key Information Technology players (including DISA and leadership at OSD/DoD CIO) have done a tremendous job in keeping the community informed on a new, ambitious approach to enterprise IT in DoD called the Joint Information Environment.  They have presented at industry days, spoken at major conferences, and even made official press releases.  All that is very helpful for the community who seeks to serve these important national missions.

If you are in the IT industry and believe you have capabilities that can contribute to this important national program, our first recommendation is that you start with the overview provided by DoD’s Dave DeVries in a 3 October press release. We copy that press release below for your information:

Official Describes Joint Information Environment

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2012 – The Defense Department is working to improve its ability to share information, not just between the services, but also with its industry partners and other government agencies, the Pentagon’s deputy chief information officer for information enterprise said Sept. 28.

The planned Joint Information Environment is a central piece of the information-sharing solution, Dave DeVries said.

“If you think about it, everything we do is about sharing information, whether it be information about a known threat out there or how the forces are arrayed and how they’re … performing.”

Information is meaningless unless it is delivered into the hands of those who need it. And because there are so many separate networks, information sharing isn’t as efficient as it could be, he said.

The Joint Information Environment will take all of those separate networks and collect them into a shared architecture, DeVries said, noting that he expects full capability to be realized between 2016 and 2020.

To understand the significance of the Joint Information Environment, it’s important to understand DOD’s mission, DeVries said.

“Ultimately, it is to fight and win the nation’s wars, but also to maintain the peace, [and] that involves sharing information,” he said. “In order to do that more efficiently and effectively, we’ve got to change how we procure and lash together our information technologies so we can enable better and more secure information sharing.”

DOD is working together with industry to procure and configure information technologies in a more secure fashion, DeVries said.

When it’s complete, he added, the Joint Information Environment will enable every user to get onto an approved device, anywhere they are — at home, at work or on the move — and get the information they need in a secure, reliable fashion.

Significant progress already has been made, he said, and the average user may have noticed some changes as the services work to simplify their networks.

The services will continue to support their own networks, under the aegis of the Defense Information Systems Agency, DeVries said. The Joint Information Environment will eliminate redundancies in those networks, however. For example, instead of operating a parallel Army-only network for Army units that are stationed at a predominantly Air Force joint base, the Air Force will operate a single shared network for all personnel assigned to the base.

Developing the Joint Information Environment also involves moving more toward enterprise –- that is, DOD-wide — services rather than every component buying, operating and maintaining their own services, he said.

“For example, rather than having every command operate their own email system, today the services have been combining those into a more efficient way of offering those things up at the service level,” DeVries said.

The enterprise email system, spearheaded by the Army, currently supports more than 550,000 users, he said. The Defense Department intends to develop that system further by eventually providing every DOD user with an email address that is theirs regardless of command or location.

Ultimately, DOD users will have access to their email anywhere in the world, on any network operated by a DOD agency, he said.

These efficiency efforts eventually will allow DOD to reduce the number of data centers over eight to 10 years, from 1,500 to about 250, he said. Data centers house computer systems, power supplies and other equipment and applications required for the operation of information technologies.

Core data centers, operated by the services and DISA to a known standard with a common rate structure, would replace the old data centers, DeVries said.

The department also will move toward cloud computing, he said, which offers great efficiencies not only in hardware and software, but also in data sharing.

“We have just published our cloud strategy,” DeVries said, “and the services are moving rapidly toward moving their applications and systems to the cloud.”

The Joint Information Environment will provide full-spectrum support to the department in the operation, procurement and maintenance of information technology systems, from the foxhole to the Pentagon, he said.

“It is not a new program of record. It is not a turn-key solution. It is a compilation of what the services and agencies have under way today to modernize and make more efficient their information technology in both systems and applications,” DeVries said.

For more see: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=118092

Gourley Comment: Some of the things I read into the above are more need for interoperable solutions (that has always been a requirement, but too frequently just gets lip service), enhanced ability to move data to mobile users, better ways to secure information, a better focus on users, and a need for an architecture that treats the entire enterprise as a platform to be built upon.

Companies that should take note include: Cleversafe (for highly reliable/economical/safe data storage and retrieval), Fixmo (for an ability to use mobile devices with enterprise info and apps), MarkLogic (to enable use of all your data), Thetus (for model-enabled analysis in the enterprise), Terracotta (for very large in-memory components required to make the JIE responsive to needs), and Recorded Future (for anticipating future change).  All those firms should be beating a path to the door of decision makers mapping out the future JIE. Now is your chance to help the country do this right.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.

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