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A year of milestones: DISA moves forward on JIE, mobility, cloud and the enterprise

Nov. 4, 2013 - 11:57AM   |  
By NICOLE BLAKE JOHNSON   |   Comments
In March, the DISA Command Center marked the addition of the one millionth user to the DoD Enterprise Email system. Since then, more than 400,000 users have been added to the system.
In March, the DISA Command Center marked the addition of the one millionth user to the DoD Enterprise Email system. Since then, more than 400,000 users have been added to the system. (Defense Dept.)
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Over the past year the Defense Information Systems Agency has expanded its role as the Pentagon’s go-to source for mobility, cloud computing and a growing list of enterprise services.

Among DISA’s most notable achievements in 2013:

■ Leading Defense Department efforts to secure and expand classified and unclassified mobile communications, including a contract award for mobile device management and mobile app store capabilities.

■ Collaborating with the Army and Air Force to negotiate discounted prices and award a $617 million, joint enterprise license agreement for Microsoft products, a move DoD expects will save tens of millions of dollars.

■ Completing the migration of 1.4 million Army email users to DoD Enterprise Email and being designated the department’s email service provider by DoD CIO Teri Takai.

■ Standing up initial capabilities for cloud broker services and drafting requirements for commercial cloud services.

DISA is trying to expand cloud offerings beyond its current private clouds, where services are provided exclusively to DoD and hosted in DISA data centers. The agency released a draft request for proposal in July for commercial cloud storage services. A final RFP was expected in August, but as of last month had not been released.

Speaking at an industry event this summer, DISA Director Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins vowed to speed the agency’s delivery of new capabilities. “What I have asked the staff to do is to focus on us being able to pivot on delivering capability in short periods of time rather than it taking us years to do it,” he said.

That will be critical in fulfilling DISA’s requirement of charting the roadmap for the department’s Joint Information Environment (JIE) initiative. It’s a massive restructuring of DoD information technology, which will include consolidating and standardizing disparate networks and systems and providing more enterprise IT services. “We’ve got a tough challenge ahead of us to move into the deployed environment, with the Joint Information Environment,” Hawkins said this summer.

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In July, DoD achieved initial operating capability for the first increment of the JIE. It entailed establishing the first regional Enterprise Operations Center in Stuttgart, Germany. These centers will serve as a single point of entry for carrying out operations to defend the DoD Information Network and will provide network defense capabilities for DoD organizations, according to DISA.

The agency underwent a major reorganization last year in an effort to align itself with the JIE initiative, including converging its enterprise services and internal CIO functions and moving the former director of Enterprise Services to oversee customer relationship management functions, Hawkins said.

In April, DISA stood up initial capabilities for its cloud broker service, including new processes for gathering and assessing DoD’s cloud computing requirements, evaluating vendors’ cloud offerings against contract requirements and the creation of a catalog for cloud services. DoD users are required to go through DISA before buying government or commercial cloud solutions.

To better manage the department’s growing inventory of mobile devices, DISA awarded a $16 million contract in June to provide software that can centrally manage smartphones and tablet computers and control which apps are used on those devices. According to DoD’s Commercial Mobile Device Implementation Plan released in February, DISA will offer these capabilities as a subscription-based service and scale to support 100,000 devices by January as an initial capability.

“It’s a bigger deal than what most people recognize,” Tyler Lessard, chief marketing officer at Fixmo, said of the contract. Fixmo’s technology is part of DoD’s broader management solution and will be used to segregate DoD applications on mobile devices and ensure devices are configured properly.

“It’s setting the stage for this ... beyond email world in mobility,” Lessard said.

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