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Online Show Daily: DISA Mission Partner Conference

May 10, 2012
By Rita Boland
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Bring your own device policies and information technologies efficiencies were big topics during the final day of the 2012 Defense Information Systems Agency Mission Partner Conference. During Thursday's panel session, Cora Carmody, chief information officer (CIO), Jacobs Engineering, discussed them both and the money the company has saved through implementation. Jacobs embraced a bring your own device attitude that allows employees to use personal platforms, including tablets, with the understanding that they are responsible for certain costs and for keeping the devices safe. "We reserve the right to wipe your device if you lose it," Carmody explained. The company updated network security and adapted to accommodate newer Android operating systems and the iOS. It already worked for BlackBerrys. Since instating the policy, Jacobs has saved $10 million a year. Another cost-saving initiative involves printers. Personal printers are now the exception in the company, which has instituted multifunction devices shared by numerous employees. Before implementing the plan, personnel worked out the most efficient placement. The new devices require people to physically arrive at machines and identify themselves before a job sent to the printer actually comes out on paper. This move increases security while cutting back on waste. "We've reduced printing significantly," Carmody said. In terms of efficiencies she stated that though printing may seem mundane, it is "the low-hanging fruit. It adds up." Military members on the panel shared examples of data center consolidations and enterprise emails as ways the Defense Department is increasing efficiency. Michael Krieger, the Army's deputy CIO/G-6 said that moving to enterprise has significantly improved the soldiers' network. The Army now owns more than 90 percent of its desktops and owns its network. He also said he wants to enter enterprise licensing agreements with major Army vendors but first he has to know what items the Army owns and second who to charge to obtain the money to pay the companies. Those are ongoing challenges. Jeff Barr, senior web services evangelist, Amazon Web Services, explained how Amazon uses cloud computing to drive efficiencies. Though the company grows at a rapid rate, its margins are tight. Cloud reduces the investment in hardware and allows for faster changes and greater flexibility. "Efficiency is paramount to us," Barr stated. Security is built in at the start. "We knew unless we engineered security from the very beginning there was no business there," Barr explained.   Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, commander, U.S. Cyber Command, also discussed bring your own device policies in his speech Thursday, focusing on how to secure mobile technology. The general emphasized mobility as an area with tremendous opportunities that has impact on commercial infrastructure, information technology efficiencies, accessing cloud and reducing manpower needs. Keeping information safe is critical in this emerging field. "I think what industry is doing right now to secure mobile devices is huge," Gen. Alexander stated. Maj. Gen. Mark Bowman, USA, the director of command, control, communications and computers on the Joint Staff, as well as its CIO, did not talk about personal devices on military networks, but he did address connecting people. The Joint Information Environment is the direction of the future, he said, with interoperability built in from day one. The success of the Afghan Mission Network demonstrated the importance of having a technology to enable communication among coalition partners. Though the services are still in heavy debates about how to move forward, Gen. Bowman says there is no doubt emphasis must be placed on protecting troops on the battlefield. Interoperability is a key piece of that. To help ensure success, the U.S. military must pick a course and not make sudden changes. Because it has a larger information technology budget than other coalition nations, these partners might take years to catch up to any alterations made along the way. Gen. Bowman also said that the military wants to go to everything over Internet protocol or at least as close to the construct as possible.  

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