Nine initiatives that could trip up DOD's enterprise strategy

Defense Department officials have no illusions about the difficulties facing its new IT Enterprise Strategy and Roadmap.

The plan, distributed in October (as reported by InformationWeek), identifies 26 initiatives aimed at improving the “efficiency, effectiveness and security” of DOD’s IT operations, with an emphasis on consolidating and streamlining systems and networks.

As part of the plan, DOD officials assessed each initiative according to technical risk and cultural barriers. They concluded that none of the initiatives come with high technical risks, but they believe nine provisions could face cultural resistance from the defense IT community. They are:

Consolidating the security infrastructure by creating a suite of enterprise-level security services to replace those created by individual programs or organizations. These services would apply access control services both to people and devices.

Consolidating network operations centers across DOD components, providing a common set of processes, standards and systems. In addition to improving management and security, consolidated NetOps will make it possible to save money on hardware and software.

Creating a standard certification and accreditation process for systems and software. This will require revising its 8500 series of guidance documents, which govern information security policy.

Consolidating data centers and servers, which is already underway. DOD officials estimate they can reduce their footprint in this area by 30 percent.

Optimizing IT infrastructure and services by simplifying IT policies, consolidating IT services and and improving interoperability across DOD installations.

Adopting cloud computing more widely, building on the foundation already laid by Forge.mil, the Rapid Access Computing Environment, and similar initiatives. Besides reducing infrastructure costs, DOD officials believe cloud computing can accelerate the delivery of software and services.

Developing an enterprise services platform, providing a common set of functions for developing, deploying and managing enterprise applications and data services.

Optimizing the purchase of IT services by creating centrally-managed IT service contracts, with competing contracts off limits unless approved by the DOD CIO. DOD officials will adopt some existing contracts, but will create others to ensure they cover the full range of required services.

Standardizing common business processes by selecting a core set of applications that can serve as core enterprise business services across the department. At present, DOD manages nearly 3,000 IT business systems at a cost of approximately $7 billion a year.

“Through this strategy, we are committing to a task that requires changes to policies, cultural norms and organizational processes to provide lasting results,” writes DOD CIO Teri Takai in her foreword to the plan.

About the Author

John S. Monroe is the editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Mon, Dec 19, 2011

It'll never happen by consensus, since nobody ever volunteers to give up turf. Need a benighn dictator to say Just Do It. ALL DoD back-end operations need to be consolidated, rationalized, and common-serviced, not just IT world.

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 CallMeBC

These days, every time you change your network and software systems, you run high technical risks, especially in an military or government environment. And then add to that the mostly dismal record of the usual motley assortment of government IT vendors & contractors in implementing cleanly any sort of large IT project. Cloud computing, for instance, can streamline and simplify a lot of IT by moving apps off desktops into a high-availability, centralized environment, but doing it right is very complex and very much different from even "traditional" SasS solutions. Currently there are no vendors in the DC area who can independently implement cloud systems correctly (what DC area firms that offer it usually do so through a partnership with Amazon or such) -- you are looking at Cambridge, NY and then the West Coast with maybe a little corner of Utah in between. More so than usual, a little research and homework will be needed here to provide against future, not-so-little "snags."

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