Pentagon OKs new info grid

As network-centric operations take pre-eminence within the Defense Department, Pentagon officials have approved its first enterprise architecture, the Global Information Grid, aimed at improving inter.operability across the organization.

GIG has been in development for several years and replaces the inadequate and outdated Defense Information Infrastructure (DII), created in the early 1990s. GIG is designed to provide DOD with a working framework for moving to network-centric operations.

The GIG architecture Version 1.0, as this edition is called, will provide data to military forces around the world, from regional commanders to soldiers on the front lines.

The overall goal is to provide the warfighter with the right information at the right time in the right form and have it be assured and secure, said John Osterholz, director of architecture and interoperability for the DOD chief information officer's office.

"This is something that we've never really had before," said Margaret Myers, the Pentagon's acting deputy CIO.

"We really didn't think the [DII's] paradigm and what it represented would get us to where we needed to be," Osterholz said. "We needed something different.

"Interoperability was not something that was addressed particularly as a mainstream element of DII," he said. "With the network-centric operations, interoperability becomes a more critical issue for us."

The interoperability policy was more than 10 years old, and in DOD's communication policies, the word "network" never appeared, Osterholz said.

DOD is even looking at the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, the Navy's $6.9 billion effort to outsource its network infrastructure to a single vendor, as a good test case under the GIG architecture, said Bill Curtis, director of the DOD CIO's investment and acquisition directorate.

GIG also changes how DOD views information security. GIG moves the military away from its traditional information technology security stance of "Defense In Depth," which sought to provide multiple protections from all attacks.

"That's really a paradigm that no longer applies," Osterholz said, explaining that the threats come from so many directions now that it's difficult to decide where an organization is going to apply its depth.

Furthermore, threats can come from many different directions even within an organization, he noted.

DII looked at security as an add-on, Osterholz said, "an important add-on, but an add-on." GIG makes security central to any system.

The GIG architecture recognizes the fact that DOD will be dealing with intrusions every day, but reacts more biologically, he said. "I've got an infection every day, and I've got to control it rather than keeping everything out," he said.

GIG includes an operational view, which DOD officials said describes and connects the operational elements, information flows and tasks and activities required to accomplish mission and business operations.

But GIG also maintains the system view, which is a more classic enterprise architecture framework and describes and associates the systems and how they interconnect to the operational view and its requirements.

The document detailing GIG is not available to the public. It is available within DOD, however, on a CD-ROM that includes thousands of pages of detail.

Officials expect to update GIG annually, Osterholz said.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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