The U.S. Defense Department now is advancing into the third generation of information technologies. This progress is characterized by migration from an emphasis on server-based computing to a concentration on the management of huge amounts of data. It calls for technical innovation and the abandonment of primary dependence on a multiplicity of contractors.
Interoperable data now must be accessed from most Defense Department applications. In the second generation, the department depended on thousands of custom-designed applications, each with its own database. Now, the time has come to view the Defense Department as an integrated enterprise that requires a unified approach. The department must be ready to deal with attackers who have chosen to corrupt widely distributed defense applications as a platform for waging war.
When Google embarked on indexing the world’s information, which could not yet be achieved technically, the company had to innovate how to manage uniformly its global data platform on millions of servers in more than 30 data centers. The Defense Department has embarked on creating a Joint Information Environment (JIE) that will unify access to logistics, finance, personnel resources, supplies, intelligence, geography and military data. When huge amounts of sensor data are included, the JIE will be facing two to three orders of magnitude greater challenges to organizing the third generation of computing.
JIE applications will have to reach across thousands of separate databases that will support applications to fulfill the diverse needs of an interoperable joint service. Third-generation systems will have to support millions of desktops, laptops and mobile networks responding to potentially billions of inquiries that must be assembled rapidly and securely.