AFCEA PlugFest Consortium (PFC)

Exhibit Hall, 900 Aisle

Open during exhibit hours


Observe the immediate value of rapidly integrated COTS and GOTS technology, applied to Defense Community Cyber use cases, and rapidly procured via evolving agile acquisition processes! See a Cyber Common Operational Picture (COP) that shows how dynamically applied Information Assurance (IA), Computer Network Operations (CNO), and Computer Network Defense (CND) can all measurably contribute to mission success.


PlugFest “Mash Up Challengers” will develop cyber applications within two days and utilize them on top of a rich, interoperable, network infrastructure. Trophies will be awarded to PlugFest Mashup Challengers on Thursday, August 16th, at 8:45 am.


The theme for three Challengers at the AFCEA TechNet Land Forces Cyber Conference will be to develop applications that may be utilized as a part of a Common Operational Picture (COP) that reflects how operating forces can “Shape” the cyber environment. The term “Shape” is an enduring requirement and is emerging as a core competency of U.S. Forces. Shaping is accomplished by engaging with industry and coalition partners through routine working interactions, or through contingencies or cyber incidents in regions with localized conflicts. Shaping includes ensuring that infrastructure is in place to be able to sustain cyber-attacks and to provide assurance that operations can continue through reconstitution efforts. The results of the PlugFest competition are intended to assist the DoD rapidly develop applications and capabilities to support winning on the cyber battlefield.


The government remains generally unable to deliver Information Technology on pace with industrial best practices. This issue is well documented repeatedly by various watchdog reports. Defense and Intelligence communities are especially frustrated because they observe their adversaries successfully exploiting COTS technology as it evolves.


Hence, Defense leaders and acquisition officials are determined to revolutionize the way they use, select and acquire new technologies. They recognize that “Cyber” strategy must include leveraging the power of rapidly evolving Information Technology (IT). That is, a key Defense IT Acquisition objective is to harvest the innovation and rapid evolution of COTS IT within a plug-and-play Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA.)   

One challenge is the lack of real incentives in Defense acquisition strategies to support agile MOSA. In addition, there is a lack of objective, testable, certifiable definitions of “open,” i.e. “interoperability” to support MOSA. Current policies that consider IA equivalent to draconian lock down contribute to the problem. Meanwhile deep-seated government acquisition culture keeps the experts in COTS IT, i.e. COTS IT industry, at arms’ length.

To address these issues, AFCEA is working with government and industry to execute an Industrial Outreach thrust aimed at incentivizing COTS focus on government requirements via a Rapid Innovation Integration Process (RI2P). AFCEA is demonstrating RI2P via a series of rigorous demonstrations, i.e. “PlugFests”, of how plug-and-and-play open standard COTS and GOTS IT offerings can add value to government, especially military, use case; from both capability delivered and acquisition efficiency perspectives. The DCGS Enterprise, HQMC-Intelligence Division, JIEDO, JITC, Multi-Agency Collaborative Environment (MACE) and Naval Postgraduate School are all sponsoring this effort.


Generally a “PlugFest” is an industrial best practice wherein solution providers are incentivized to demonstrate how their offerings “plug in” to a Common Computing Environment (CCE) via open standards and add value to customer-defined use cases. In our case, COTS vendors will plug their offerings into prototype CCE that will comply with open standards and include high assurance, lightweight IA components. Participants demonstrate how their offerings add value to use cases provided by, for example, uniformed warfighters. The government intends that soon PlugFest demos will achieve real certification, i.e. “Pre-approved Product” status, and availability via convenient, low barrier contract vehicles.

Supporting the PlugFest team to establish the foundation for the competitors to be creative will be the following PlugFest Booth partners: Esri, IBM, Overwatch, Raytheon, Simtable, and CyVision Technologies.


HQMC Intelligence Department, the Distributed Common Ground Station (DCGS) Enterprise, Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), and the Multi-Agency Collaborative Environment (MACE) sponsored the first PlugFest at the AFCEA TechNet Land Forces Southwest event in Tucson 27-29 March 2012. It included a “mash up challenge” wherein three software developers rapidly programmed applications focused on Marine Corps tactical edge Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.

CENTCOM perceives a requirement for ever more bandwidth to meet requirements at multiple operational levels. PlugFest at TechNet Land Forces (TNLF) South demonstrated how the issue is not so much a lack of bandwidth, but rather, how the existing bandwidth can be used to concentrate the critical bits of information across a distributed enterprise, and deliver actionable intelligence inside decision loops. Because global drug trafficking is tightly correlated with state and non-state sponsored international terrorism, and because it presents a cross-agency information sharing challenge, the TNLF South PlugFest use case addressed Joint and Coalition Counter Narcotics operations.  

TNLF East will use a similar use case focused on developing applications that may be utilized as a part of a Common Operational Picture (COP) that reflects how operating forces can “Shape” the cyber environment.