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Joint Information Environment – Increment II? This could soon be the hottest program in DoD IT

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DIEA_v3Why would DON CIO’s Terry Halvorsen take a team of senior SES’s to Japan this week, in the middle of a No-Travel-Environment that is keeping ships in port, airplanes on the ground and everyone else chained to their desks counting their pay cuts? In his own words: he’s trying to “find some money”. And the tool he is using to find these savings is called Joint Information Environment – Increment II. His new mantra is: “Do no harm, but spend less money.” Wait, what???

I’ve seen the JIE briefings and I didn’t take away “budget-cuts” from the power points! But apparently PACOM views the JIE as a way to make some hard decisions that will ultimately save money. Randy Cieslak, PACOM CIO, briefed DISA last week and convinced them that he had a plan. As a result, Terry Halvorsen assembled a traveling team to go look at the issue in person. How’s this for the A-TEAM: Linda Newton (PACFLT N6) accompanied by IT Guru Bob Stephenson (Executive for Fleet Systems Engineering), Dr. John Zangardi (Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for C4I IO and Space), Vic Gavin (PEO EIS) and Andy Singer (Deputy Director for Information Dominance Advocacy). Basically, all the folks needed to make hard decisions in one room!

What COULD they be looking at? Under the umbrella of JIE, a joint program that has been blessed by all the senior DoD leaders, Terry boasts the assemblage of “federated enclaves”. A quick lookup shows that “Federated” means: “To cause to join into a league, federal union, or similar association”. I guess that means consolidation? Collapsing the hard infrastructure to achieve efficiencies and enhance collaboration. For the Coalition Partners (which is really what PACOM is all about), it means removing hard infrastructures and putting together networks that can be formed-on-the-fly – add/remove Coalition partners faster. The goal: an enterprise that is agile and doesn’t require rebuild (cost/time) when something new is needed.

We can’t afford to rip-and-replace infrastructure, so often this will mean collapsing networks when possible and reusing infrastructure that is still useful. By segmenting the enterprise into functional pieces, PEO EIS hopes to attain agility and enable competition of the pieces.

The first step to make this happen is to clean up the patchwork grid already in place. Currently, there is no “enterprise” visibility into the PACRIM networks. Visibility is essential to conducting C2 of the cyber infrastructure. If it isn’t visible, it isn’t defendable.

So where is the money that Terry is seeking to find? It’s tied up in the “legacy infrastructure” that needs to be “collapsed and consolidated”. When you figure that every domain requires between 5-30 network full time equivalents (FTE’s) to manage it, savings is immediate if you can reduce the number of domains.

Could ONE NET (the Navy’s shore OCONUS network) be functionally and dramatically reduced by migrating users to DISA’s Enterprise Email? What would have seemed impossible a few years ago (because of span of control issues) looks different under the glaring lights of extreme budget cuts. Army did it and survived. USFK did it… USFJ is going to do it. There might be some service-operated elements of these networks that will still be required after the migration, but theoretically it would be a minor subset of what is currently maintained there. If they can do it, why not Navy?

Could the CENTRIX node at Yokota and Yokosuka be managed at PACOM, or DISA? Assuming the ubiquity of reach-back, the costs to manage a CENTRIX node are dramatically reduced when you don’t have to pay OCONUS pay and allowances. If DISA is really serious about taking on the Multi National Information Sharing (MNIS), they will push hard to consolidate these disparate solutions to a common problem.

DISA is building on the successes and struggles of JIE INC I (otherwise known as the EUCOM Pilot) to forge the PACOM model. If the metrics for JIE’s success are improved visibility of the enterprise (C2 of Cyber) and cost savings, Navy will certainly be interested.

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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.