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U.S. Navy Steps Forward With CANES

December 21, 2012
By George I. Seffers

 

 

 

Implementing the Defense Department
 Cloud Computer Strategy Poses New Challenges

December 1, 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann

A few staff experts can formulate new strategies in a short time. Over the years, the U.S. Defense Department has accumulated a large collection of long-range planning documents. However, none of the plans ever was fully implemented, as new administrations kept changing priorities.

The just announced Defense Department Cloud Computing Strategy presents a long list of radically new directions. Ultimately, it will take hundreds of thousands of person-years to accomplish what has been just outlined. Several points stand out.

In one, individual programs would not design and operate their own infrastructures to deliver computer services. Users would develop only applications. This approach will require tearing apart more than 3,000 existing programs. A pooled environment will be supported by cloud computing that depends on different processing, storing and communications technologies. Small application codes then can be managed separately, relying exclusively on standard interfaces. The challenge will be how to manage more than 15 years’ worth of legacy software worth about half a trillion dollars, but in completely different configurations. Making such changes will require huge cost reductions of the infrastructure that currently costs $19 billion per year.

Another point is that cloud computing will reduce the costs of the existing computing infrastructure. The Defense Department will have to virtualize close to 100,000 servers and integrate that construct with 10,000 communication links. The department will end up with a small number of enterprise-level pooled and centrally managed operations. This is a short-term multibillion-dollar effort that can be financed only from rapid savings, because no new funding will be available.

Defense Board Computing Recommendations Lack Strength

November 1, 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann

 

The Defense Business Board is the highest-level committee advising the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Its report on “Data Center Consolidation and Cloud Computing” offers advice on what directions the Defense Department should follow.
 

However, the Defense Business Board (DBB) report is incomplete. It does not offer actionable solutions; it only raises policy-level questions. As components are formulating budget requests through fiscal year 2018, they will find nothing in this report to guide them on what type of realignments are needed to advance the Defense Department toward cloud computing.

The department’s fiscal year 2012 budget for information technology is reported to be $38.5 billion, $24 billion of which is dedicated to infrastructure. Those numbers are incomplete because they do not include the payroll of 90,000 military and civilian employees, which is worth more than $10 billion. The numbers do not include the time expended by employees in administrative, support, training and idle time that is associated with more than 3 million online users, which amounts to at least $3,000 per capita per year, or $9 billion. In terms of potential cost reduction targets, the total direct information technology budget should be at least $50 billion. In addition, there are collateral management costs such as excessive purchasing due to long procurement cycles, high user support costs to maintain separate systems and high labor costs resulting from inefficient staff deployment.

The Tactical Edge Sees Data Interoperability

November 1, 2012
By Capt. Mike Stephens, USAF, and Frank Klucznik

Different command and control systems are closer to enjoying Web interoperability as a result of experiments performed in coalition exercises. Protocols and processes developed by defense information technology experts can enable data to be exchanged among the services as well as in coalition operations.

Managing Change in the
 Intelligence Community

October 1, 2012
By Max Cacas

A new computing architecture emphasizes shared resources.

The nation’s intelligence community has embarked on a path toward a common computer desktop and a cloud computing environment designed to facilitate both timely sharing of information and cost savings. The implementation could result in budget savings of 20 to 25 percent over existing information technology spending within six years, but the ramifications could include large cultural changes that result both in lost jobs and business for industry partners.

Al Tarasiuk, chief intelligence officer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), explains that the changes will be difficult. Agency employees, and the vendors who help operate and manage information technology for the 17 agencies composing the nation’s intelligence apparatus, will feel the effects of the cost cuts.

“Right now, technology is not our biggest risk. The culture change is our biggest risk, and that extends to our industry partners. We have a lot of industry employed in the community through service contracts and other things. They could help, or they could choose not to help,” Tarasiuk emphasizes, candidly describing the pivotal role of these firms in a transition that could spell the loss of both business and jobs. “They know, and I’ve been very open with them, that we’re not going to need the pool of resources of people that we have today to manage what we have in the future.”

Not Your 
Father's J-6

October 1, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The newly reconstituted Joint Staff office is not just picking up where the previous version left off.

A U.S. Navy information systems technician troubleshoots network equipment onboard the USS Carl Vinson. Future U.S. military platforms may be designed with space designated for communications equipment, which would be incorporated after the platform rolls off the assembly line.

After a two-year organizational hiatus, the Joint Staff J-6 billet is back with a new focus on interoperability and enterprisewide networking capabilities. These new authorities come as the military seeks to exploit commercial mobile communications technologies to an increasing degree with results that could change the nature of defense networking as well as its procurement.

All of the issues that have defined defense information technology utilization—interoperability, security, rapid technology insertion—are part of the thrusts being launched by the new J-6. Even the very nature of requirements may change as industry adopts the new approaches being endorsed by the Joint Staff’s new information office.

“This is not the same J-6 that existed before,” declares Maj. Gen. Mark S. Bowman, USA, director of command, control, communications and computers (C4), J-6, and chief information officer (CIO), the Joint Staff. “It is very different.”

Intelligence CIOs Teaming for Change

October 1, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

New common goals open doors for more efficient approaches to information sharing.

Technological and cultural barriers are falling away as intelligence community organizations strive to establish a collaborative environment for sharing vital information. This thrust may be a case of an urgent need overcoming traditional obstacles as onetime rival groups embrace cooperation with the goal of building a synergistic information realm.

This effort comprises several initiatives that range from establishing a common information interface to moving to the cloud. Along with programs to meet technological challenges, the thrust has changed relationships among agencies and even the nature of some intelligence organizations.

These initiatives have brought the FBI back into the core of intelligence community information sharing. For several years, the bureau has been migrating toward becoming a domestic intelligence organization concurrent with its law enforcement activities. It faces different hurdles than those confronted by defense-oriented intelligence agencies, but some of the solutions realized by the bureau might be applied across the intelligence community.

Other organizations in the intelligence community are weighing different options. Their chief information officers (CIOs) are dealing with the challenges inherent in sharing information across organizational lines, but with different approaches that may based in part on whether they largely are the collectors or the processors. Regardless, the information technology element of the intelligence community is becoming more integrated, says Grant M. Schneider, deputy director for information management and CIO at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

DISA Strategic Plan Seeks to Eliminate Ambiguities

September 12, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The defense information technology realm is exploding with innovation—so much so, the organizations tasked with ensuring effective information systems run the risk of losing control of both the process and its capabilities. The Defense Information Systems Agency has issued a new strategic plan that outlines its approach to ensuring advanced technology implementation without reining in innovation.

 

Challenges Emerge Reinventing the Joint Forces Command Network

July 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Magazine

When the U.S. Joint Forces Command was disestablished nearly a year ago, transitioning its network proved more complicated than just flipping a switch—or even what was anticipated in various scenarios. Experts found that the nature of the command’s disestablishment brought to light significant incompatibilities in Defense Department networks.

Massive Request for Proposal Defines NGEN Race

June 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Magazine

Prospective bidders for the U.S. Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network are facing several balancing acts as they weigh multiple criteria to vie for the multibillion-dollar contract. Issues such as technology refresh, service integration and savings sharing loom large in what ultimately will be the Navy’s primary information network.

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