DOD must trim, restructure network infrastructure

The Defense Department must make its overall network infrastructure more efficient and interoperable, a top official said Jan. 24.

Streamlining the information architecture across the enterprise is a goal and challenge for DOD, Robert Carey, the department’s deputy CIO, said at the Network Enabled Operations Conference in Alexandria, Va.  As part of a move to increase efficiencies, DOD must trim nearly 900 data centers while continuing to manage millions of users, he said.


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As a part of the streamlining process, DOD must get a handle on the number of pilot programs created to meet operational demands for deployed forces. One aspect of this process will be saying “no” to many of these programs because they usually cannot connect back to primary DOD networks, he said, adding, “We’re going to have to take ourselves into a different place.”

Another need is to avoid a glut of software and applications while letting soldiers write their own applications for battlefield uses. However, Carey said the DOD enterprise is not set up to support the widespread use of applications across the services.

DOD is looking at cloud computing and virtualization to help move it to a more seamless environment. Referring to the cloud as a “consistent computing environment,” Carey said to work effectively, it will have to connect data and users across service boundaries. “This is all about getting commanders together with the right data on the battlefield,” he said.

Establishing a common IT infrastructure is a major part of DOD’s efforts; the department’s infrastructure is decentralized and needs reduction, Carey said. One challenge will be to redefine network infrastructure to deliver services to users at the edge of the network. This will provide warfighters with mission effectiveness brought about by increased security and IT efficiencies, he said.

Meanwhile, DOD has been working on developing identity management technologies to allow personnel to access their desktops from anywhere in the department. But although the services are close to such interoperability, Carey said it now only exists in pockets because there is no consistent environment. “We’re working towards that smooth transition,” he said.

Reader Comments

Tue, Jan 31, 2012

Sad to say, but the problem is not the duplication of networks and infrastructure. The problem is that the infrastructure and equipment currently available and what was available in the past was not utilized to it's full potential. An example of this is the old system that the Army used in the past that was used in Logistics and in Personnel (based on the Burruoghs B-29 system) instead of utilizing the built in capabilities of the equipment and software, the users resorted to the sneaker net to move information between systems. Then and now most if not all of the capability is there, it is just not used.

Thu, Jan 26, 2012

Given the type and scope of military operations our armed forces are regularly deployed for globally, do we honestly expect there to be an always-available internet connection for them no matter where they are? Can we truly provide our troops with the infrastructure that is redundant and robust enough to fully implement cloud computing on the battlefield? I'm sure there's many that would have more inside knowledge than I, bu t I can't help but have doubts.

Thu, Jan 26, 2012

You say it would be best to get rid of DOD network duplication. I disagree with this. If the DOD network were to become centralized in one location and not duplicated, security risk increases. Having duplication and a noncentralized system makes it harder to take down. NOTHING is hacker free. Granted it being split like it is makes a nightmare for access to our own network, it does the same for attacks. Anytime a link or path is established, someone outside could use it. Making this work its not nearly as easy as this article or the previous comment make it seem to be.

Wed, Jan 25, 2012

It will never happen by consensus. Take IT and telecom away from the services and common-service it DoD-wide. They could probably reduce DoD budget by 1/3 if they got rid of all the duplication- this is as good a place to start as any.

Wed, Jan 25, 2012

Referring to the Internet cloud as a "consistent computing environment," recklessly dismisses reality. I fear the only thing that will be "redefined" is "success." Please pull your heads out of... the sand... and realize that there are fixed installations CONUS, fixed installations OCONUS, and deployed installations. These three distinctly different categories instantly come to mind. Designing to a one-size-fits-all paradigm is like doing the same thing with military uniforms or vehicles. It's like deciding that all Army aircraft will be Chinooks flown out of Washington D.C.

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