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DoD information technology trends to watch in 2014

Dec. 23, 2013 - 12:44PM   |  
By JEFF HOYLE   |   Comments
Jeff Hoyle, Director of Technology, Defense and Intelligence Group, AtHoc, and former Navy captain/JTRS waveform program manager.
Jeff Hoyle, Director of Technology, Defense and Intelligence Group, AtHoc, and former Navy captain/JTRS waveform program manager. (File)
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2013 wasn’t exactly a banner year for DoD Information Technology — sequestration, shutdown and security all created significant challenges to moving forward with IT priorities and efficiency objectives. All is not lost, however. Solid foundational work was accomplished in 2013 that should enable significant advances in the coming year. Here are some areas to watch in 2014.

Unified capabilities. DISA plans to move from the current DISN backbone with deterministic routing, single points of failure, and distributed voice and network systems to a converged IP voice, data and video capability. Major industry players responded to the DISA Request for Information in 2013, and a Request for Proposal and contract award are expected in 2014. This will begin a significant upgrade to legacy DoD IT systems and help establish the backbone of the future Joint Information Environment.

Cloud services. In July, the DoD chief information officer set forth a requirement for all of the services to migrate their enterprise IT applications to designated DISA Core Data Centers by the end of fiscal 2018. Six months later, it’s still unclear how or if the services plan to comply. Regardless, the DoD data center consolidation trend will continue and accelerate in 2014. DoD and service government clouds will decrease in number while increasing in size, but the more interesting trend to watch will be the migration to commercial cloud hosting for unclassified applications. Public facing websites and other non-sensitive applications migrated in 2013, but the big move in 2014 should be low-to-moderate sensitivity applications used for the bulk of DoD business and administrative processes. The economics of commercial cloud hosting for these applications is compelling, and many cloud services successfully achieved Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) authorization in 2013. DoD will certainly take advantage of expanding secure commercial cloud options in 2014.

Mobility. This is the area that’s poised for the fastest growth in 2014. DISA awarded a mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application store (MAS) contract this year, and the initial operating capability is planned for the first quarter (maybe even the first month) of the new calendar year. Today’s single vendor mobility paradigm should give way to a mobile security paradigm that allows for multiple device vendors and focuses on protecting the data while managing the device. Limited applications (e-mail with attachments, calendar, contacts and voice) should expand exponentially to include many managed applications with a shorter vetting time for new updates (DISA’s target is 30 days). Key to achieving this vision will be the ability to identify and authenticate the mobile device user using derived credentials based on the Common Access Card (CAC). NIST should be releasing a new standard (NIST 800-157) addressing derived credentials in the new year. DISA expects 100,000 users of the new MDM/MAS capability by the end of 2014, but the services don’t yet have a clear strategy to adopt the newer commercial mobile devices that will be supported. Each service has its own vision for the mobile future, and it will be exciting to see how those visions are realized (or modified) in the coming year.

Best wishes for a Happy Holiday season and a productive, safe and secure New Year!

Here’s a link to an article covering the MILCOM 2013 Panel Discussion on Emergency Communications Convergence that I referred to in my last post.

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