Guest Blogs

April 18, 2018
By Alana Johnson
The Joint Regional Security Stack architecture enables a robust network-focused defense, shifting away from stovepiped protections by service-specific networks and systems. Credit: TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay

The Defense Information System Agency’s Joint Regional Security Stack (JRSS) initiative is driving and delivering solutions to network defenders and operators across the department, answering a call placed three years ago when the Department of Defense (DOD) cyber strategy established as one of its goals the need to “defend the DOD Information Network, secure DOD data and mitigate risks to DOD missions.”

April 9, 2018
By Wayne Lloyd
Defense Department officials need to make sure they do not bring bad habits to the cloud. Credit: jplenio/Pixabay

From an industry perspective there are many advantages to moving aspects of any organization to the cloud. In theory, cloud is more efficient and easier to manage, but organizations like the Defense Department need to make sure they are not bringing along their bad habits and old baggage with them. Legacy networks are hard to understand and have grown out of control in the last few decades. Cloud is as complex as legacy networks, but the difference is who or what is really maintaining them.

February 20, 2018
By Joe Kim
Caption: A digital replica of a military system, including vehicles and weapon systems, can monitor, maintain and manage that system throughout its life cycle. Credit: Manuchi/Pixabay

The U.S. military is exploring ways to make virtually everything—from the uniform on a soldier’s body to the engine contained within a vehicle—connected and mission ready. Troop movements are being monitored, as are soldiers’ health statuses. Aircraft and other assets are providing real-time insight into enemy movements and other potential threats. Decisions are being made based on this information, which has the ability to flow in an unerring stream. Indeed, the Internet of Things (IoT) has further elevated the military’s reputation as a well-oiled machine.   

But, what if the machines that power that machine break down? What if heavy transport machinery stops running, or advanced weapons systems fail?

February 1, 2018
By Benjamin K. Sharfi
Not all rugged environments are equal. Military technologies require different kinds of ruggedization depending on the intended environment.

Defense computing systems need to operate in a highly disparate range of environments. Depending on the program’s requirements, ruggedness is a function of the environment each system will be deployed in. A system that operates just fine in a pressurized aerospace application, such as a wide-bodied aircraft, may have issues in a marine application, and may be completely unacceptable in a vehicle being driven through a hot and sandy desert. Even within airborne applications, the environment might be a wing-mounted pod that is completely unpressurized. Computing systems for each of these environments must be ruggedized to match requirements.

When rugged ... isn’t

January 31, 2018
By Alberto Dominguez
Fort Leonard Wood is the first Army site to transition to a modernized, Internet protocol-based network. Credit: U.S. Army photo

U.S. Army stakeholders are working together to steadily modernize the network that reaches from the home station to the tactical edge. To understand this effort, one needs to understand the changing mission requirement for the command element at home station to maintain a consistent, secure, and reliable connection with dispersed, tactical teams maneuvering on the battlefield.

January 17, 2018
By Benjamin K. Sharfi
An MVD plug-in enables use of high-magnification sensors, which means that crews can perform roadway and roadside threat detection at extended ranges while on the move. Credit: Army photo

I have an entirely new appreciation for the U.S. Army. On a recent project, service officials broke the government’s often too-slow acquisition model, and instead worked together with us, the contractor, to define its needs, develop the right hardware and software, and then support the Army’s internal development and integration. This experience represents a significant change in the Army’s typical way of doing business, and it taught us both a few lessons.

December 13, 2017
By Bob Gourley and Jane Melia
Due to the varying needs of each agency, the FedRAMP process was designed to find solutions that align only with broad government needs. Credit: Blackboard/Shutterstock

The cloud and data security go hand-in-hand. While cloud computing provides valuable IT architectures and solutions for government agencies, it also requires them to relinquish data security to public cloud service providers. 

July 14, 2017
By George Holland

The executive order signed by the president in May to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity policies is evidence that the federal government has recognized and is going to take significant steps to address increasingly frequent and sophisticated cyber attacks. This order is a great first step, but must be supported by more innovative and flexible acquisition and procurement strategies and processes.  

July 12, 2017
By Ray Potter

The National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) benchmark for encryption modules has seen recent innovation, opening the playing field for competition.

For years, NIST’s Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 validation list read like a Who’s Who of Fortune 100 technology vendors. Only those products that leverage cryptographic modules shown on the list were eligible for federal agency deployment. Until recent changes, only the deepest pockets could absorb the costs of development, testing and expensive consultants to facilitate introducing solutions into the federal marketplace.

June 22, 2017
By Christine Kerns

Some government leaders still hesitate to make the move to public cloud services, citing security concerns, a lack of familiarity with cloud-based applications or the perceived need that employees must be educated on the cloud. Things have changed. Commercial cloud offerings are part of the modern technology arsenal that all agencies should be considering.

May 30, 2017
By Ben Sharfi
Adm. Harry Harris, USN, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, delivers a keynote address at West 2017 in San Diego, saying the U.S. military needs more “exponential thinking” among its ranks.

While I might not go so far as to pen an open letter to President Donald Trump, consider this a note for anyone with a need to know how the procurement process works for defining and moving ahead on military expenditures. It’s safe to say the behemoth process borders on the absurd and wastes millions of taxpayer dollars.

There are two types of government procurement issues many might find infuriating and prevent warfighters from getting the best industry offers. The two problem areas include the small business set-aside and the absurdity of asking for revolutionary capabilities but telling businesses how to do it using an evolutionary process.

Both procedures just get in the way of progress.

May 22, 2017
By J. Wayne Lloyd

As the Defense Information Services Agency (DISA) knows, a network that complies with standards is not necessarily secure. DISA’s new evaluation program, the Command Cyber Operational Readiness Inspection (CCORI), is designed to go beyond standards. Its goal is to provide site commanders and federal agencies an understanding of mission operational risks.   

May 11, 2017
By Chris Collura
Photo by Justin Main

In spite of an outcry from the federal work force for heightened access to wireless networks, U.S. government spending that would extend the service into offices reached a five-year low of $820.2 million in fiscal year 2015, a decline of 21 percent from its peak three years earlier, according to market research firm Govini.

April 11, 2017
By Leon Adato

SDN, BYOA, VDI. This alphabet soup of technologies and approaches has complicated U.S. Defense Department networks.

Trends such as bring your own device (BYOD), bring your own application (BYOA), software-defined networking (SDN) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) have dramatically increased network vulnerabilities, where failures, slowdowns or breaches can cause great damage. For the military, specifically, such occurrences can be serious and mission altering, exposing incredibly sensitive data.

March 24, 2017
By James Poole

Much anticipation surrounds the U.S. Defense Department's transition to Windows 10, primarily because of the promise that the software update is a significant upgrade from its predecessor, and perhaps Microsoft's best operating system yet.

Nevertheless, a software overhaul can be intimidating. For agencies facing the Windows 7 to Windows 10 migration, the challenge often lies in the preparation—or the lack thereof. With Windows 7 nearing the end of its extended support timeline, it is crucial to have the proper training and migration plan in place to eliminate unexpected roadblocks and ensure a smooth deployment.

January 31, 2017
By Ray Rothrock
Image credit: www.bluecoat.com

As the nation deals with intelligence reports of Russian hacks of the U.S. presidential election, some of us in industry are pondering how President Donald Trump will tackle cybersecurity issues.

He already has a good road map. In December, the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity issued its “Report on Securing and Growing the Digital Economy.” Kudos are in order. It is high time the executive branch dug deeply into cybersecurity issues.

March 10, 2017
By J. Wayne Lloyd

Do you work for a cyber company with federal government contracts? If so, hold onto your hat, because $210 billion in government information technology contracts will expire this year and be re-competed.

February 28, 2017
by Phil O'Reilly
U.S. Navy personnel learn about the Office of Naval Research's suite of information technology tools designed to improve fleet operations.

As we near the end of the first quarter of this new year, it seems like a perfect time to introduce and discuss four new "resolutions," if you will, for federal information technology managers and what a new action plan for progress might look like.

Without further ado, let's dive right in. 

February 27, 2017
By Ben Sharfi
A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle tackles rough terrain during training at an air base in Southwest Asia.

Open standards are easy to love. With a common, defined computing system, anybody can port their applications to them and the software syncs beautifully, simplifying upgrades and providing flexibility in customers’ choice of supplier. One U.S. Army crack at open standards provides a good example of the expectation, which was to correct the problems created by the bolted-on approach of field equipment on vehicles. Unfortunately, like far too many of such standards, the Vehicular Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability, or VICTORY, falls flat on implementation.

February 8, 2017
By Bill Lemons

For the past several years, U.S. federal agencies have undergone a concerted effort to consolidate and streamline their data centers. As such, they’ve ramped up initiatives to drive application requirements to the cloud, used virtualization services whenever possible to improve efficiencies and deployed sensors to monitor power consumption.

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