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Cyberwarfare, Media Integration Dominate DISA Plans

June 20, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Online Exclusive
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New technology capabilities are driving agency goals.

Integrating the network and defending it against cyberattacks are among the top priorities in the new Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) 2011-2012 Campaign Plan. The plan, released this morning, focuses on requirements and opportunities facing the information agency.

Citing advances in mobile computing technologies that offer “significant and unprecedented opportunities for seamless information sharing to end users,” the plan notes the need to implement mobile computing devices by delivering mobile applications that provide many vital capabilities, such as the ability to visualize mission information on mobile devices. DISA will have to provide the necessary server infrastructure to support these mobile applications, as well as offer mobile device services as a virtual network provider. The agency’s Web 2.0 effort calls for a participatory environment with a focus on information sharing, collaboration and interoperability, and it will support the evolution of Web 3.0 capabilities and technologies.

DISA’s network integration effort involves two endeavors. One is to deliver an integrated platform comprising core Defense Department communications, computing and enterprise information services. The other entails integrating terrestrial, wireless and satellite communications. And, DISA will be creating virtual communities of interest to help further information sharing.

For cyberwarfare, DISA is focusing on integrating information assurance services across the enterprise infrastructure and providing information assurance capabilities to the Defense Department. It also will “conduct and influence” cyber risk management and compliance processes to secure that infrastructure.

The agency also will be taking a greater role in network operations (NetOps) management. One of the plan’s priorities is to “implement and institutionalize operational governance for NetOps readiness to ensure life cycle sustainment, standardization of functionality and interoperability.”

Some of these priorities reflect DISA’s new roles picking up functions that used to be the purview of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Integration Operations (ASD NII) and the J-6. Other priorities represent extensions of DISA’s ongoing mission and its increasing role in cyberspace operations.

DISA divides the campaign plan into three lines of operation: enterprise infrastructure; command and control (C2) and information sharing; and operate and assure.

Under enterprise infrastructure, the plan’s top priorities include providing an enterprise computing platform and services to the Defense Department; and leveraging technologies and integrating capabilities to operate and ensure the enterprise infrastructure.

For C2 and information sharing, the plan’s priorities include evolving C2 capabilities to be consistent with the Joint C2 Architecture using agile development concepts and joint concept technology demonstrations. The agency also will aim to establish common enterprise information sharing services, which it will transition into virtual communities of interest to support all mission partners.

Under operate and assure, the plan emphasizes information sharing capabilities. It also stresses the need for continuity of operations plans to ensure that the DISA enterprise infrastructure continues to operate, as does government communications capabilities.

In addition to listing priorities, the plan cites progress toward establishing a joint enterprise network/joint information environment, the deployment of enterprise email, advancement in support for mobile devices, unification of objectives for information sharing, and collaboration for U.S. forces and coalition and nongovernmental partners.

The plan cites several other goals for the coming year, including the consolidation of the information technology infrastructure within DISA. Another goal is to establish a seamless portal out to the Global Information Grid (GIG) as part of an effort aimed at improving information technology and knowledge management systems for use across the agency.

On the technical front, DISA will be serving as the Defense Department focal point for developing a departmentwide strategic spectrum plan. This plan may include improving spectrum management efficiency through the development of automated spectrum management services, which is a DISA goal. The agency also will serve as a bridge to the National Telecommunications and Information Agency on spectrum reallocation issues.