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DISA reorganizes to better enable Joint Information Environment

Aug. 29, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By GREG SLABODKIN   |   Comments
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As the Defense Department embarks on the largest restructuring of information technology management in its history, one agency in particular is feeling the weight of that monumental task.

The Defense Information Systems Agency is the “integrator and synchronizer” of what Pentagon planners envision as a secure Joint Information Environment comprising shared IT infrastructure, enterprise services, and a |single security architecture designed to achieve full-spectrum superiority, improve mission effectiveness, increase security and realize IT efficiencies and cost savings.

The goal of JIE is to reduce DoD’s overall IT footprint, standardize configurations, create shared security protocols at the enterprise level and simplify data routing. Toward that end, DISA is leading the JIE technology synchronization effort and is creating a set of common IT services to support trusted identity and access management, data center consolidation and enterprise services such as DoD Enterprise Email. In addition, cybersecurity is a critical component of JIE, with enhanced network security via a single security architecture to better protect DoD networks, while giving war fighters easier access and improved information sharing and collaboration.

If that sounds like a tall order for DISA, it is. Developing and implementing the JIE won’t be easy — a fact that senior agency officials readily admit.

“We have a tough challenge ahead of us as we move to JIE,” said DISA Director Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr. at the agency’s annual Forecast to Industry event in August. “We must develop JIE to secure our cyber infrastructure and to cut costs.” However, it is as much a cultural challenge as technological, he told industry representatives.

DISA has reorganized its structure to better meet the requirements of the JIE and enterprise architecture. Recently, DISA’s Alfred Rivera transitioned from principal director of enterprise services to vice director for strategic planning and information, and the agency recruited other senior management to fill key positions related to JIE implementation.

“Having Alfred Rivera focus in on customer relations is very important to us, as is bringing in Brig. Gen. Brian Dravis to run our JIE Technical Synchronization Office, and then hiring Mr. Dave Stickley to make sure we in DISA are doing JIE in a horizontal fashion,” Hawkins told C4ISR & Networks in an interview. “I think this going to pay big dividends for the Defense Department, as well as the agency, because we will be able to start normalizing across the agency instead of us building in a stovepiped fashion.”

In the new DISA organizational structure, SPI will have a customer relations function focused on collecting and understanding the strategic requirements of its mission partners.

“Our focus will be with our customers and building the right solutions,” Rivera said at a luncheon hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s Northern Virginia Chapter. “We are doing all of this in an effort to be more responsive, as well as be more efficient.”

“We have work to do,” Hawkins told attendees at the DISA event, including “a greater emphasis on efficiency and savings from enterprise solutions.” DISA will “pivot on delivery of capabilities and technologies in sprints” measured in months, not years, he promised, and said the agency will “mature the JIE” with a focus on DoD’s coalition partners.

On July 31, DISA reached a milestone when JIE Increment 1 reached initial operational capability including the establishment of the first regional Enterprise Operations Center in Stuttgart, Germany. The EOC is responsible for managing access to the JIE enterprise within the areas of responsibility for U.S. European and Africa Commands, serving as a single entry point and primary executor for DoD Information Network operations as well as defensive cyber operations.

“It’s about info sharing, and that’s what you’re going to see at the enterprise level for our networks in the European theater, to include EUCOM and AFRICOM,” Hawkins said.

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