DISA setting up new network monitoring center

Defense Information Systems Agency officials will soon kick off an experimental program that could help defense officials pinpoint service outages and security breaches across the military’s networks.

The pilot effort, slated to begin next month, is a step toward setting up an Information Sharing Operations Center early next year, according to Anthony Montemarano, DISA’s program executive officer for information assurance and NetOps. Defense Department Chief Information Officer John Grimes called for the establishment of the center in an August 2006 progress report on the implementation of the department’s net-centric data strategy.

The idea of the center is to gather data about the status of various services feeding data to the military networks for a variety of applications. For example, a service could produce data as simple as the time of day, or as complex as a geospatial map, Montemarano explained.

DOD officials have traditionally used agents, little computer programs, to monitor the performance of each of these services. The ISOC is an attempt to monitor a large number of services simultaneously, resulting in a map of problem spots across the networks, according to Montemarano.

“There are two types of systems: Systems that are down, and systems that are going to go down,” he said, highlighting the need to have what military officials call a common operational picture about the status of the networks. DOD officials have embraced the notion that the military networks will always operate in a somewhat degraded state rather than at peak performance and with uncompromised security.

Officials are now evaluating sites for housing the ISOC, Montemarano said. One site under consideration is a DISA facility in Columbus, Ohio. Another is a secret facility used by the intelligence community, he added.

DISA’s Anne Kim, who heads the pilot leading up the ISOC, said the pilot will begin at the beginning of fiscal year 2008 and run for approximately 60 days. After that, officials will decide what kinds of equipment and manpower would be needed to formally stand up the center, she said.

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