• Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner, USAF, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Joint Force Headquarters Department of Defense Information Network, highlights agency priorities and focus areas during a virtual luncheon session hosted Thursday by AFCEA's Central Maryland Chapter.
     Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner, USAF, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Joint Force Headquarters Department of Defense Information Network, highlights agency priorities and focus areas during a virtual luncheon session hosted Thursday by AFCEA's Central Maryland Chapter.

Data Centricity, Interoperability at the Heart of Network Modernization

May 21, 2021
By Sandra Jontz
E-mail About the Author

The path forward also centers heavily on more generic solutions that enhance industry's speed and effectiveness at innovation.


Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner, USAF, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the Joint Force Headquarters Department of Defense Information Network, (JFHQ-DODIN), highlighted agency priorities and focus areas that could provide a peek into his much-anticipated new action plan to further modernize the Defense Department.

Now a few months into his new role as DISA/JFHQ-DODIN commander, Gen. Skinner is looking to 2022 and beyond with a focus on data centricity, he said Thursday during the AFCEA Central Maryland chapter’s May virtual luncheon.

“I firmly believe that data is a center of gravity now and is the center of gravity of the future,” he said during his roughly 30-minute virtual presentation. “Those who can harness the data, those who could take advantage of the data and those who can really leverage the data are going to be it.

While not everyone can be a data scientist, everyone can play a vital role in securing the networks as, what he dubbed, “a data Jedi.” The Jedi is one “who understands the power of data but also understands how you apply that data to the mission set that you are assigned to, the mission set that you are supporting, but not only that, how you can leverage [the information] across all mission areas is important.” 

It’s akin to knowing the risks and how to protect your whole neighborhood, not just locking your own front door.

Another focus area includes procuring better identity, credential and access management (ICAM) solutions. “We have some parts and pieces going on within the department … but we need to go further than that. We need to understand truly how do we get to not just two-factor, but true multifactor authentication so that we take into account the location of the individual, the past behavior of the individual, the system that they are on and how cyber secure is that endpoint.”

ICAM must dovetail with zero trust architectures, which alone are not the panacea, he said. “If we get identity management right, then that is going to make zero trust not just easier, but so much more powerful.” 

Plans will leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning and a host of solutions, but one thing Gen. Skinner said he is not looking for are more tools. “I don't want more tools.” What the agency needs are solutions that integrate and optimize the tools already in place, ensuring interoperability, and making sure the workforce is adequately cross trained to use the various tools and systems.  

“If we go to a data-centric model, across the department, that will take care of the situational awareness shortcomings that we have today; that will take care of some of the things we are not able to see today.” 

Enjoyed this article? SUBSCRIBE NOW to keep the content flowing.


Departments: 

Share Your Thoughts: