DOD communications: Bringing it all together

DISA, the Army and the Air Force are expecting an RFP release for unified capabilities in a private cloud by the end of the year.

Shutterstock image: connecting individuals to one another through an access point.

The Defense Department will open up its quest for "unified capabilities" to the private cloud if and when the National Security Agency approves the project's security architecture. The Defense Information Systems Agency, the Army and the Air Force will likely put out a joint request for proposal for UC in the first quarter of fiscal 2015, a top Army official said Sept. 15.

UC refers to a series of IP-based services, including voice, video and instant messaging, designed to make internal DOD communications smoother and more secure.

At a luncheon hosted by AFCEA's Washington, D.C., chapter, Army Deputy CIO Mike Krieger said a colleague heard a consistent message in no less than 50 one-on-one meetings with interested firms: let industry help DOD develop UC via the private cloud.

And so after the luncheon, Krieger said, he would head to Fort Meade to meet with NSA officials for the fourth time to hash out the RFP's details.

Douglas Wiltsie, head of the Army's Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems, has also been in touch with NSA officials on the RFP. "What comes out of NSA with regard to what information can reside in a commercial data center is going to be critical to how that [RFP] gets shaped," he said at the luncheon.

NSA also needs to define the role industry should play in the military's classified (SIPRNet) and unclassified (NIPRnet) networks, Krieger said. Once those details are worked out, "I think you'll see a lot of applications moving to either DISA or…[the] private cloud, [or] a combination of both. I think you'll see that pick up," he said.

At the luncheon, Army officials previewed the service's major IT initiatives over the next two years or so. Another headline on that agenda is that the Army plans to move backup data for two of its major programs – the Integrated Personnel and Pay System, and the Logistics Modernization Program – to DISA data centers in 2015. That data consolidation follows a memo Undersecretary of Army Brad Carson issued in June mandating that all enterprise systems and applications move to designated core data centers by Sept. 30, 2018.

The Army will soon start two big procurements that Krieger said will focus on the enterprise network operation process. One will be for a management suite for the Joint Regional Security Stacks, which are clusters of network security stacks. The other will be for "enterprise service management as a service" that will complement the JRSS management suite, he added.

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