DISA moves ahead with VOIP

Who's in charge

Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr.


Maj. Gen. Marilyn Quagliotti

Vice Director

David M. Mihelcic

Chief Technology Officer

John Garing


Diann L. McCoy

Component Acquisition Executive

Debra Filippi

Net-Centric Enterprise Services Program Director

Tony Montemarano

Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion Director

Alfred Rivera

Director of the Center for Computing Services

Major contracts

Gateway Communications System: Awarded to eight companies in October 2001 to provide specialized products and services to support a gateway communications system on behalf of the Pentagon IT Services Center. $8 billion

Defense Information Systems Network Transmission Services-Continental United States: A network and telecommunication services contract awarded to AT&T Corp. in January 1997. The company is providing transmission services for the continental United States in support of the Defense Information System Network. $5 billion

DISN Transmission Services-Pacific: MCI Worldcom is developing the DISN Transmission Services Pacific Network, another component of the Defense Information System Network. The contract was awarded in August 1996. $4 billion

Defense Information System Network Global Solutions: Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego and SETA Corp. of McLean, Va., were hired in September 2001 to provide international network and telecommunications services to help DISN connect voice, data and video networks into one system. $3 billion

Encore: Under this seven-year contract, awarded in March 2002, nine companies bid on a full range of IT solutions contracts for DOD, other federal agencies, and state and local governments. Contractors provide IT services, hardware and software. $2 billion

Information Assurance Services: At Scott Air Force Base, Ill., DISA has contracts with 11 vendors for IT security services. The contracts wre awarded in July 2000 and are valued at $1.5 billion.

'The benefits of a converged network are that we can significantly downsize the deployable communications packages that support the warfighters,' which makes it easier to transport.

'David Mihelcic, DISA chief technology officer

Rick Steele

Warfighters in Iraq are making phone calls over the Internet.

A pilot program, run for the past several months by Central Command and the Special Operations Command, converts telephone communications to voice over IP calls.

The Defense Information Systems Agency is supporting the technology. The agency has tested VOIP in other applications and plans to expand its use to take advantage of its benefits, simplifying the communications infrastructure and improving data management.

David M. Mihelcic, chief technology officer for DISA, said the agency has been examining VOIP technology for more than three years and recently outlined how it would move to converged IP voice, video and data networks.

Mihelcic said the success of several VOIP pilots, including the one in Iraq and another at one of DISA's buildings in Arlington, Va., drove the agency to study the feasibility of moving to converged networks.

Mihelcic said the VOIP system in Iraq is smaller than conventional military communications infrastructures. 'The benefits of a converged network are that we can significantly downsize the deployable communications packages that support the warfighters,' which makes it easier to transport, he said. 'In addition, this approach will help us move into an environment where we can dynamically manage bandwidth based on the services required by the deployed warfighter.'

But deploying VOIP also poses such security challenges as data confidentiality, integrity and protection against denial of service, Mihelcic said.

At a recent conference, Joseph Boyd, DISA's chief of the Center for Network Services, also said the agency has some security concerns about VOIP.

'DISA is moving towards IP convergency, but ever so cautiously,' he said. 'Our big concern is the denial-of-services aspects.'

But Boyd predicted some networks'including those carrying sensitive information about nuclear capabilities'would not switch to VOIP.

DISA's Joint Interoperability Test Command in Fort Huachuca, Ariz., has ap- proved VOIP PBX systems developed by Avaya Inc. of Basking Ridge, N.J., and switches and routing gateways from Nortel Networks Ltd. Both have passed interoperability certification and security ac-creditation, allowing DOD agencies to use them.

Mihelcic said DISA conducted a comprehensive review over the summer of VOIP technology to be included in the DISA IP Convergence Master Plan next year. The plan will include technical, programmatic information on IP services.

'IP will be the primary means of communication for warfighters, business and intelligence information exchange,' Mihelcic said. The services also will use other means to provide redundancy and security for vital communications.

DOD is moving forward with the development of the Global Information Grid, a worldwide Defense Department network using IP.

The grid will be developed over the next decade as a six-layered network with both classified and unclassified components.

The six layers of the grid will be fiber, wireless and satellite communications; DOD's Net-Centric Enterprise Solutions suite of applications; an information assurance layer, and a portfolio of experimental pilot programs. Each will be added as completed over the next seven to 10 years, according to DOD's plans.


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