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Halvorsen: DISA Cloud Contract Will Simplify Things

July 18, 2013
By Max Cacas

In the coming months, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is expected to issue its multiaward contract for cloud computing services.

Terry Halvorsen, chief information officer with the Department of the Navy, believes that the contract will make his life simpler.  “Much as we have done with our software enterprise licencing program, where we have bundled up the requirements, and we can go to the marketplace, DISA will be able to bundle the requirements, and we’ll be able to go in, and we will represent a much bigger share of the market, more money on the table, and that will get us much more competitive pricing,” he says in a recent episode of the new AFCEA Answers radio program.

In addition, the military services will have even more options for using cloud computing to perform their missions, according to Henry Fleischman, chief technologist, Federal Cloud Solutions, Hewlett-Packard in Washington.
“It will provide a mechanism to consume cloud services that are certified for government use [and] safe for the end users at different agencies to consume, and I think it will open up an ecosystem of cloud service providers that agencies can have a direct relationship with,” he explains.

Another outcome, says Fleischman, is that it will, “drive a level of standardization in the cloud offerings for government, in that, by being a certified DISA cloud provider, it will allow agencies to be more direct about what we want today.”

He also believes that in the long-run, a successful multi-award contract for cloud computing services will also offer his service more competitive pricing, and at the same time make the contract more valuable to cloud service providers chosen to offer commercial cloud services to the military. 

A Joint Environment Changes Everything

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

Rear Adm. Robert Day Jr., USCG, assistant U.S. Coast Guard commandant for command, control, communications and information technology, sees the Joint Information Environment as an opportunity to resolve some of the most pressing information technology problems in the years to come as he faces a future with more challenges and fewer resources. He says a military-wide common operating environment will establish “enterprisewide mandates that programs cannot ignore.”

The admiral told the recent AFCEA Solutions Series–George Mason University Symposium, “Critical Issues in C4I,” the Joint Information Environment (JIE) will allow for more efficient system configurations and facilitate consolidation of the Coast Guard’s information technology work force. As the director of the U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command, he also is mindful that the JIE will improve his ability to control what devices are attached to the network, giving him, for example, the opportunity to quickly detect and order the removal of an unauthorized USB thumb drive inserted into a secure network computer.

Hewing to the reality of doing more with less, the admiral also told conference attendees that within the next eight months, the Coast Guard is expected to move to the U.S. Defense Department’s enterprise email system. Adm. Day stated that even though this move initially may cost more in some cases, the long-term benefits to the service will mitigate and justify some of those costs. In addition, acknowledging the futility of reinventing the wheel, he noted that the Coast Guard is adopting the U.S. Air Force’s Virtual Flight Bag, which replaces nearly 300 pounds of printed manuals and charts carried aboard aircraft by crews. Apple iPads will be loaded with digital copies of the same material.

No Venue, No Problem

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

The U.S. Navy uses a popular online collaboration tool 
to change course around last-minute travel restrictions.

The U.S. Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center, charged with conducting safety and environmental training worldwide, successfully is circumventing hurriedly imposed government travel restrictions by using an online application to conduct safety and environmental training. The tool recently enabled the center to conduct an annual conference with more than 1,000 attendees.

Normally used for smaller meetings, the Adobe Connect software, which operates in the cloud environment, is readily available to the entire U.S. defense community through the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA’s) Defense Connect Online (DCO).

“We execute an annual joint occupational safety and health conference,” explains Cmdr. Greg Cook, USN, commanding officer, U.S. Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center (NSETC) in Norfolk, Virginia. “We have members of all five services ... active duty military as well as civilians across the services.” The conference has been offered annually for the past 20 years, with venues alternating each year between Norfolk and San Diego.

Information Agency 
Changes Security Approach

July 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The increasing use of readily available and inexpensive commercial technologies by the military is changing the way the Defense Information Systems Agency provides information assurance. As these technologies are integrated into the Defense Department information infrastructure, the agency is adjusting its approaches to providing security for its networks and the data that reside on them.

Joint Information Environment Serves Five Eye Nations

June 26, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 2

The Joint Information Environment (JIE) took center stage during the second day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore. The conference devoted one full panel to the joint environment, but presenters throughout the day stressed the JIE’s importance to the future of the U.S. military and coalition partners, discussed some of the challenges to achieving the vision and vowed that the department will make it happen despite any remaining obstacles.

The JIE is not a program and does not have a budget, some presenters pointed out. It is, instead, a construct what will eventually consolidate all of the Defense Department’s networks into one single, global network, improving interoperability, increasing operational efficiency, enhancing situational awareness and ultimately saving costs.

The United States has been working with the so-called “five eye” nations—which also include Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom—to implement a Joint Information Environment capability, Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, U.S. Army director for command, control, communications and computers for the joint staff, told the audience. The five countries have agreed to share intelligence.

Gen. Bowman described the tactical end of JIE as the Mission Partner Environment. The Mission Partner Environment is essentially the same thing as the Afghan Future Network, which is the preferred terminology within NATO. “We’ve been working this hardest with the five eyes, and we have come up with a system that we’re using today so that we can exchange email and files from our national secret network to their national secret networks,” Gen. Bowman reported. “We just started that this past year. It’s a resounding success, it continues to grow, and we’re putting the rigor into it. That’s the way we need to run forward. We can’t be designing a new network.”

The Best Laid Plans Fly Awry

June 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

The U.S. Air Force’s migration to a new enterprise network known as AFNET will be at least two years late in completion because the project turned out to be more complicated than planners anticipated.

DISA to Spend Summer Exploring Security in the Cloud

May 24, 2013
By Max Cacas

A hand-picked group of Defense Department’s top information technology experts will work with a giant in the cloud computing industry to determine how security will play a part on the military’s migration to the cloud.

Intelligence Taps Industry for Essential Technologies

May 22, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

James Bond’s U.S. counterpart may be equipped more with commercial technologies than with systems developed in intelligence community laboratories. The private sector will be called upon to provide even more capabilities to help keep the intelligence community ahead of adversaries and budget cuts.

Big Data and Cloud Computing Present Opportunities, Challenges

May 22, 2013
By Max Cacas

The term “big data” means different things to different people. To a bank, big data represents the ability to gain business intelligence from financial transactions. To the United States intelligence community, big data’s challenge comes in trying to sift through information from multiple environments in support of the warfighter.

John Marshall, senior information systems technologist for the Joint Staff Intelligence Directorate (J-2), Joint Chiefs of Staff, said big data includes information being captured constantly by more than 50 million mobile devices, and “the question is, how do we successfully mine through that data for those nuggets that my colleagues and I need?” He appeared on a panel, “Big Data and the Evolving Enterprise,” at the the AFCEA SOLUTIONS Series – George Mason University Symposium, “Critical Issues in C4I."

The second panel of the day focused on an examination of cloud computing. Frank Konieczny, chief technology officer, Office of Information Dominance, and chief information officer, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, reminded attendees that in his office, the promise of cloud computing is an empty one if it does not fulfill Air Force mission requirements and help airmen to meet the mission.

Fellow panelist Geoffrey Raines, a cloud infrastructure engineer for the MITRE Corporation's National Security Engineering Center, noted that significant challenges remain on the road to cloud computing in the Defense Department; among them, portability and interoperability; risks associated with data center consolidation; and managing cost expectations, which have been widely touted as a benefit of cloud computing.

NIST Releases Latest Catalog of Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Systems

May 3, 2013
by Max Cacas

A government-wide task force led by NIST is out with the latest catalog of security and privacy controls for federal information systems, including some new thinking when it comes to addressing insider threats that go beyond technology.

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