DISA Acquisition Leader Shares Agency's Latest Priorities

October 21, 2009
By Maryann Lawlor
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A person recognizable to anyone who has been in military information technology for a few years offered MILCOM 2009 attendees insights into where the Defense Information Systems Agency is headed. Tony Montemarano, component acquisition executive, DISA, revealed that the agency is working on a campaign plan in which the word "convergence" is used time and time again. The plan, which is in the midst of final modifications, comprises three lines of operations: enterprise infrastructure, command and control, and information sharing. In the area of enterprise infrastructure, Montemarano explained that it is important for companies to know that DISA operates networks, computing environments and entire systems, and each of these has its own set of business processes and different cost-recovery schedules. In this way, the agency is still stovepiped, he allowed. The focus today is on convergence so that warfighters can plug into the cloud or network to get the information they need. To this end, DISA is trying to drive anonymity out of the network so that troops as well as DOD personnel can access the network from wherever they are and that access is attribute-based. "That's what we're focusing on. How do you do that?" Montemarano asked. At DISA, the program is called Enterprise User, he revealed. Today, DISA is moving toward everything over Internet protocol (EoIP). This approach causes some problems, Montemarano allowed. "In my business, technology doesn't bother me; technology doesn't cause me headaches. Culture causes me headaches. Getting people who have always done something one way to adapt to the way other organizations do things is critical to getting them to work together," he stated. The danger of EoIP is the same as putting all your eggs in one basket, Montemarano admitted. But it is exactly for this reason that information assurance and security become all that more important. This is particularly true as DISA makes the nonsecure Internet protocol router network (NIPRnet) a true intranet, he said. Montemarano was honest and upfront about the problems the agency has faced with the Net-Enabled Command Capability. "It didn't do what we expected it to do. The department is currently rethinking how it wants to go forward. We are going to take this rather significant effort and cut it back. We're going to go incremental with very small incremental pieces each and every year. The objective and the requirements documents remain in place. We are going to continue to move with a service-oriented architecture, loosely coupled net-centric environment, but we're going to do it in a more incremental fashion. That tells you something. If you're going to do it over time, the destination is probably going to change," he explained. In the current environment, policy has not kept pace with technology to enable the information sharing that today's capabilities offer. Combatant commanders still have to look at multiple screens to see all of the data streaming into their operations centers and to obtain total situational awareness. To solve this problem, Montemarano stated that these capabilities must be brought together as an enterprise service. "We haven't gotten there yet, but we are honing in on a solution," he shared. Details of the solution could not be divulged because the competition to provide the capability is still underway.

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