DoDIN will help push commercial network capabilities through the military. (Defense Department)
Long the Pentagon’s network for providing voice, video and data, the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) has transitioned to what is now called the Department of Defense Information Network (DoDIN).
Defense officials say the move is more than a name change but a major shift in the way network services are managed.
“Literally, we don’t have the same old fashioned [demarcation] for telephony,” said Cindy Moran, director of the Network Services directorate at the Defense Information Systems Agency. “I would only bring dial tone into a local end office, and the [military] service would extend the service farther down.”
For enterprise services like email, DISA works with DoD customers to provide technical support to the desktop-level, Moran said.
“That’s the cultural change that DoDIN is trying to describe, that we truly are end-to-end in some cases. Not all of them, yet, but in several.”
The vision for DoDIN includes enhanced video and messaging capabilities, cloud applications, and more Internet-based services, including telephony.
“What we’re looking at is getting all of our voice and video over IP,” Moran said. “We’ve been talking everything over IP for years. The services are here now, and we’re rolling them out to try to eliminate legacy.”
That includes reducing the number of landline phones and associated costs.
(Editor’s note: Post publication DISA clarified the relationship between the DoDIN and the DISN. The DoDIN replaced the Global Information Grid or GIG. The DISN refers to DISA transport networks and is part of the DoDIN.)
DoDIN will provide new resiliency and reliability for DoD network users, said Harry Raduege, the chairman of the Deloitte Center for Cyber Innovation and a former DISA director. Users will be able to operate in the defense environment as they would in the commercial world, where users aren’t worried about network connections and security but simply accessing information.
One of U.S. Cyber Command’s responsibilities is to secure, operate and defend what is now the DoDIN.
While DoD has been expanding its use of commercial products, the user experience will also mimic commercial operations, “where we get the services we want in a quicker and more efficient, reliable, and resilient manner,” Raduege said. “It’s going to make it more user friendly in the DoD networks so that it’s more along the lines of what we are used to in our personal lives.”
What is happening now is a relook at how communications throughout DoD are evolving, he said.
It’s “an end-to-end look at DoD information networks, but taking into account we have defined cyberspace, cybersecurity, we have a new U.S. Cyber Command and we have renewed interest now in projecting the DoD CIO into proper perspective on her role in management and oversight and policy development,” Raduege said.
“This is really a defining moment,” he added.
In a Sept. 5 memo, DoD CIO Teresa Takai ordered all DoD components to move to enterprise email provided by DISA. Enterprise services are a key component of the transition to DoDIN.
“The reality is we’re providing capabilities from an enterprise perspective,” said DISA Chief Information Officer David Bennett. “Coin it how you want to, but the reality is you, as the consumer, don’t need to know where the capability is housed. You could care less.”
To further integrate voice, video and other capabilities, DoD has to move off the desktop and into the cloud and mobile environments, said Jennifer Carter, DISA’s component acquisition executive.
The department’s term for delivering all that over the Internet is “unified capability.” DISA has a pilot program underway to test unified capabilities, Bennett said. The agency equipped about 150 people with cellphones that provide access to integrated capabilities, such as email and voice. Bennett said he plans to increase the pilot to 2,000 users.
DISA is partnering with the Army to award a contract for unified capabilities in fiscal 2014.
The Army said it plans to roll out capabilities for integrated real-time communication services, including the ability to find people online and communicate via text, voice, and video instantaneously.
“[Unified capabilities] bridges the gap between voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP, and other computer-related communications technologies,” according to Army spokeswoman Margaret McBride.