DISA to test enterprise access

The Defense Information Systems Agency is securing funding for a pilot project designed to enable the military and intelligence communities to access information relevant to their missions regardless of what agency operates the network where the data resides.

DISA is preparing to launch the Net-Centric Enterprise Services program to create an infrastructure that will enable users to quickly take advantage of Defense Department and intelligence community networks containing critical information. Such a program would eliminate the system-by-system approach that exists today, said Rob Walker, DISA's program manager for the pilot.

"It's about the data...and how do we get all of those command and control and [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] systems out of the stovepipes and into a network where it's available to the people who need it," Walker said.

DOD officials want to move from the current methodology for disseminating data that includes tasking it out, processing it and then deciding how to act. The new method -- task, post, process, use -- will result in faster decision-making and increased collaboration, he said.

Walker said nine "services" must be integrated in the DISA pilot:

* Enterprise systems management.

* Messaging, which includes traditional communications via radio as well as electronic means such as instant messaging.

* Discovery, which includes data retrieved from myriad sources, including signals intelligence or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

* Mediation.

* Collaboration, which will be set up to focus on a specific mission or assignment and could include inter-agency and coalition members.

* User assistance.

* Security, which includes for data as well as measures for accessing the system.

* Storage of the massive amounts of information already on the networks and collected in the future.

* Application -- an infrastructure to host and organize the data.

"Within the last three months, we've started to flesh out completely how the pieces will come together," Walker told FCW after taking part in an Oct. 16 panel at the Council of Security and Strategic Technology Organizations (Costo) conference in Arlington, Va.

Walker cited the following example: A UAV doing battlefield surveillance would post information to the discovery and storage services, and then messaging services would send an alert to the soldier that needs it. The soldier would then pull the data from storage, and that if the soldier required more information, he or she could contact a subject matter expert at the CIA or other agency through messaging and add that resource through collaboration.

"We need to think differently about the way we use the resources at our disposal," Walker said, adding that DISA is following the private sector's lead in this area, since businesses have become experts at acquiring new companies and taking advantage of the best systems for the enterprise.

The biggest immediate obstacles are "security and [developing] a fielding strategy to make the information readily accessible by the units," he said, adding that will take a three-step process:

* Deciding what services to get out to the user.

* How to get the right information to the right people at the right time.

* Connecting the operating threads in an end-to-end manner.

DISA is working with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I) to demonstrate the capabilities in conjunction with the intelligence community, Walker said. "We're in the process of programming for follow-on funds for integration in the future."

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