Agency Award'Defense Information Systems Agency | Across the board

2007 GCN Award: DISA's enterprise services portfolio puts information into the field

WHAT: The Defense Information Systems Agency's Network-Centric Enterprise Services initiatives.

MISSION: DISA is in charge of the military's information technology systems and networks. It also provides and operates the Defense Department's Global Information Grid, which is the department's core network infrastructure and the primary vehicle for delivering tactical data to warfighters on the battlefield. DISA plans, engineers, acquires, tests, fields and supports computing and networking technologies for DOD, the military services and other agencies responsible for the country's defense.

CHALLENGE: In addition to having a multitude of nonuniform systems, DISA lacked an overarching enterprise services architecture.

SOLUTION: Between June 2006 and July 2007, DISA implemented an enterprise services architecture planned as the core of its NCES initiative, and based on a service-oriented architecture.

IMPACT: DISA's implementation of SOA provides a platform for service creation and delivery across DOD, which reduces costs, eliminates duplication of effort and speeds the launch of new services. In addition, the common architecture ties together data resources previously separated by divisions between the uniformed services and agencies within DOD to enable departmentwide discovery and information sharing.

COST: DISA's 2007 budget for the NCES initiative as a whole was $27 million.

MISSION-ORIENTED: Charles Croom says the goal is to 'get the right information to the right place at the right time.'

Zaid Hamid

CAN-CAN DO: The team at DISA upgraded networking and communications throughout DOD.

Now more than ever, knowledge is power ' in the boardroom and on the battlefield. For the military, getting the right information into the hands of its warfighters at the right time is a decisive part of winning battles and saving lives.

For the complete list of the 2007 GCN Award winners, click here


'Information is America's ultimate weapons system,' said Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Croom, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, the lead agency behind the Defense Department's networking and computing systems. 'If you're all-knowing and all-seeing, you're a hell of a warrior.'

[IMGCAP(1)]In that light, DISA has concentrated its resources on a portfolio of Network-Centric Enterprise Services initiatives. It's aimed at transforming systems, and the emphasis is on speed of operations and program delivery. The results are beginning to show in a host of innovative services available now or in the pipeline.

'There is a sense of urgency about DISA because we know [information technology] can save lives,' Croom said, and his dedication to streamlining everything DISA does has permeated the agency and quickened the pace of its many programs.
In fiscal 2008, DISA's annual budget will be $8 billion, up from $7.3 billion in 2007. The agency runs dozens of programs, each one an essential component of the country's national security strategy.

DISA is responsible for operating and defending the Global Information Grid, the shared terrestrial and satellite network that is DOD's communications link for secure and unclassified data and voice traffic, connecting DOD with its armed services and supporting military operations worldwide.

[IMGCAP(2)]DOD's latest strategy of extending computing power to the battlefield also envisions GIG as the conduit for a new class of intelligent, network-delivered services that will equip soldiers in battle with the up-to-date data they need to make decisions.

Since summer 2006, DISA has implemented an enterprise services portfolio consisting of five components: a host-based security service, an enterprise Web portal via connections to Defense Knowledge Online, a service-oriented architecture, an enterprise collaboration capability, and enhanced computing and satellite communications services.

DOD's planned network-enabled services are part of DISA's primary mission, and the strategic and tactical value of delivering relevant data to warfighters during conflicts is a primary driver of DISA's emphasis on agility and responsiveness.

'This is a combat support agency, so our purpose is to provide IT to the warfighter,' Croom said. 'We are here to get the right information to the right place at the right time.' The urgency of the task has transformed and energized the agency and led it to modify its processes so it delivers capabilities faster and responds quickly to the military's changing requirements.

In its emphasis on agility, DISA also has modernized its data infrastructure by implementing a Web-enabled, standardized computing platform that allows resource sharing and data discovery on all of DOD's computing systems and will lead to faster creation of easily deployed, interoperable network-based services.

In the short time since its inception, the agency's upgrade program has made significant progress, particularly in its implementation of a service-oriented architecture foundation that will be the underpinning for nearly a dozen intelligent, networked services developed by DISA's Network-Centric Enterprise Services program.

DISA needed an SOA foundation because SOA provides the core building blocks for all 11 of the NCES services and solved the interoperability problem presented by DOD's multiple incompatible computer systems and networks that needed a unifying standard such as SOA before they could communicate with one another or share resources.

DISA started its SOA implementation in June 2006 and by July 2007 finished the essential first phase of the migration, completing a significant portion of the project and creating a flexible services creation and delivery platform for NCES.
Some work on SOA remains for 2008, primarily to smooth any remaining seams and further integrate DISA's foundation with the various platforms used at DOD and by the Army, Navy and Air Force, DISA officials said.

Nevertheless, DISA successfully built a flexible platform for services creation and delivery and eliminated the obstacles preventing DOD from sharing resources across its many computing systems, bringing DISA one step closer to its vision of saving lives by delivering crucial data to soldiers in the battlefield.

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