Col. Lynn Coehoorn, center, conducts a changeover briefing with 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center members Jan. 23 at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. The 618th TACC is Air Mobility Command's air operations center responsible for air mobility assets around the clock. (Robert Fehringer/Defense Department)
In one of the U.S. military’s most significant defense network overhauls, DISA and DoD are implementing a Joint Information Environment (JIE) that provides a cross-service shared IT infrastructure, enterprise services and a single security architecture.
DoD’s current cyber environment consists of a mix of hardware, operating systems, databases and applications tied together by a series of discordant processes, said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul Capasso, vice president of strategic programs for network security provider Telos.
“JIE is a systematic approach of dealing with the complexity of the largest, most diverse and disparate set of global networks in the world,” he said. “When fully implemented, JIE will be a model of sustainable change within the DoD.”
“JIE is a secure joint information environment that’s comprised of a shared IT infrastructure and applied services in a single security architecture to achieve a whole spectrum superiority and improve mission effectiveness, increase security and really realize IT efficiencies across the DoD,” said Willie Callahan, vice president of data, analytics and services for Lockheed Martin.
The establishment of a single security architecture aims to provide a unified framework to protect DoD information and information systems commensurate with mission needs, the value of information and threats.
“A single security architecture provides a scalable, standardized and repeatable approach to provide cyber security protection and mitigate risks across the network,” Capasso said.
JIE initiatives are grouped into functional areas, including network services, computing services, application and data services, end-user services, and IT business processes.
“The JIE will include shared services that provide telecommunications, common applications, and the computing services to process, store and access information,” said Alfonso Colbourne, program manager for network technology provider LGS Innovations.
“It will also contain a specific subset of computing services that enable end-users to access information applications locally and via the network, as well as processes to procure what is needed to operate and maintain the DoD’s IT infrastructure.”
DISA, which has been handed responsibility for JIE’s technical aspects, leads the JIE Technical Synchronization Office, Capasso said. The office includes DISA staff, as well as representatives from the services, intelligence community and National Guard.
“DISA is responsible for building the foundational infrastructure/backbone of the JIE and delivering the single security architecture to provide the common security framework across the DoD enterprise,” Capasso said. “The DISA Defense Enterprise Computing Centers have been declared as the JIE Core Data Centers and will reduce/replace service-specific data centers.”
DISA has already begun to deliver enterprise services such as DoD Enterprise Email, which serves over a million-and-a-half end-users.
JIE, which will be deployed in stages, is expected to reach fully operational capability in five to six years. As with any major program, resource availability will define completion dates, Capasso said. Yet despite a slow start, largely due to the project’s sheer complexity, JIE is beginning to pick up momentum.
“As the services begin to understand each other’s capabilities and requirements, interim steps can be taken to speed up JIE implementation,” Capasso said. He points to a recent Air Force, Army and DISA agreement to use each other’s network enabling services (multiprotocol label-switching capabilities and regional security stacks) as an example of how partnerships can solve network issues and push the JIE vision forward.
The DoD is implementing Increment 1, with Upgrades 1, 2 and 3 scheduled for September, November and December, respectively.
“Each of these ... upgrades brings new capability to JIE,” Callahan said. “Increment 1 is planned for completion, with additional capability upgrades, in fiscal year 2014.”
According to Colbourne, three essential elements are critical to JIE’s success: network security, efficiencies and mobility.
Although scattered and reluctant at first, a consensus is now growing among adopters that JIE is the right approach for dealing with network management and security challenges.
“As the JIE discussion has moved from PowerPoint slides to real world technical solutions, attitudes have moved in the positive direction,” Capasso said. Yet, unqualified support remains elusive.
“As DoD moves forward with the JIE implementation, the potential for friction and divergence will include operational [and] cultural differences between combatant commands, services and agencies,” Capasso said. He noted that adopter concerns include adapting to new network oversight and management practices, available resources, application migration/integration, and the need to institute new technology requirements.
JIE implementationwill force institutional change at every level.
“JIE will drive new business processes and policies, changes to acquisition strategies and investments, and workforce organizational and skill set restructuring,” Capasso said.
“The unifying capabilities of JIE will reduce the complexities of the services’ networks into an enterprise system with standardized security, efficiencies, and mobility,” Colbourne said. “JIE’s unifying capabilities will greatly support an ease of collaboration between the services and enable the war fighters’ mission.”
The major challenge facing adopters will be transitioning from multiple security structures to a single, common security architecture with minimal impact to operations and missions, Callahan said. Leadership will be critical to ensure collaboration and adoption across the services that traditionally operate their own specific solutions, he added.
“Being able to minimize the impact of those separate solutions and get into a common structure will be the biggest challenge in my opinion,” Callahan said.
Considering a transitioning defense strategy, impending drawdown and restructuring plans, and budgetary constraints, Capasso believes JIE is the right approach.
“JIE is a game changer and a critical capability in meeting DoD’s global, operational requirements of the 21st century,” he said.■