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The Other JIE: Engineering the Mission Partner Environment

All eyes are currently focused on the Department of Defense’s efforts to engineer a Joint Information Environment that will enable the secure sharing of information across the DoD enterprise, as well as the delivery of enterprise services by both the Defense Information Systems Agency and, eventually, commercial cloud partners.  There is another network integration effort going at DISA, however, which receives significantly less attention, yet its importance to the future of U.S. national security is every bit as critical.  That effort is the transformation of the Multinational Information Sharing portfolio of programs into a new Mission Partner Environment.

The current MNIS portfolio consists of four capabilities:

  • The Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS), which includes the Common Mission Network Transport (CMNT) backbone that enables the management of federated networks and provides common transport for encrypted traffic between mission partners.
  • The Pegasus System, which interconnects the National Command and Control systems of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States using cross domain solutions.
  • The Combined Federated Battle Laboratory Network (CFBLNet), which provides a controlled Research, Development, Trials, and Assessment coalition information sharing sandbox for evaluating new technologies and developing new tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).
  • The Unclassified Information Sharing Service (UISS) All Partners Access (APAN) Network, which provides information sharing capabilities to mission partners, U.S. Combatant Commands, U.S. Government agencies, host nations, inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and coalition partners.

Support services for these pieces of the MNIS are currently provided under a variety of contracts held by Harris (Cross Domain Solutions), CACI (Cross Domain Solutions), Raytheon (Engineering Support), Ingenium (Program Support), SAIC (Program Support), ViaSat (Cryptographic HW), Information Analysis (Connection Approval Process), and MCP Computer Products (DNS Management).

When engineering work is complete, the component parts of the MNIS will be merged into a single Mission Partner Environment that provides interoperable email, chat, video conferencing, VoIP, and other collaboration capabilities.  The MPE will also connect to the Joint Information Environment, providing access to data located throughout the Defense enterprise.


The projected Research, Development, Testing, and Enhancement (RDT&E) budget for work related to the MNIS totals $31.1 million over five years (FY 2015-2020), averaging approximately $6.2 million per year.

One piece of the puzzle not mentioned so far is the U.S. Battlefield Information Collection and Exploitation System – Extended (US BICES-X), which will also be part of the new MPE.  Budget data for US BICES-X was classified for FY 2015, so no numbers can be provided for it here.  Investigating BICES-X for potential future business opportunity should be on industry’s radar, however, as there may be requirements at Hill Air Force Base for cryptographic HW, engineering a VTC network, and integrating Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance components from the Distributed Common Ground System and Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise.  Requirements for program office support and technical integration support may also be available, if these haven’t been awarded already.

Lastly, commercial cloud providers take note.  DISA intends to host the UISS-APAN system in a commercial cloud environment in FY 2016.  UISS-APAN is currently hosted in DISA’s Enterprise Service Center, part of its Defense Enterprise Computing Center, in Montgomery, Alabama.  Supporting vendors include Carahsoft, Exalt Integrated Technologies, Alvarez & Associates, and DLT Solutions, which provide Software and Documentation Localization licenses, DocAve software, Google Maps, and Google Translation software and support, respectively.  DISA intends to migrate UISS-APAN to a vendor-hosted Infrastructure-as-a-Service environment, meaning that if the procurement appears soon, there are but a few competitors certified by the DoD to provide hosting services.

 

DISA FY 2016 IT Budget Snapshot

Last week’s post took a look at Defense Working Capital Fund dollars that the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) anticipates Defense customers will spend with it in Fiscal Year 2016. This week’s post examines the formal portions of the information technology budget that DISA anticipates it will have in FY 2016, including funding it has requested for operations and maintenance, procurement, and research, development, modernization, and enhancement. The programs on which DISA forecasts spending the most under each category in FY 2016 will also be examined.

For its total IT budget in FY 2016, DISA has requested $3 billion.  This funding breaks out as follows:

Not surprisingly, the highest number of forecast dollars can be found in DISA’s Revolving and Management Funds account.  This account is where Defense Working Capital Fund spending is located, which is why it was the focus of last week’s post.  This week’s focus is on spending in the other three categories, beginning with operations and maintenance.

Breaking down O&M, we can see that not all of the programs receiving O&M funding are “programs,” per se. The White House Communications Agency (WHCA), for example, is part of the DISA organization.  The Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) is where much work related to Joint Information Environment is taking place, primarily, but not exclusively, under the GIG Services Management –Operations (GSM-O) and GIG Services Management – Engineering, Transition, and Implementation (GSM-ETI) contracts.  Spending on DoD mobility programs comes in at the far right of the spectrum, with $23 million in spending anticipated.

Moving to procurement, we see that new dollars for tech refreshment and other acquisitions are going into the DISN, SATCOM, and other transport-network related programs.  DISN investments focus primarily on the procurement of network switching (MPLS) and optical network equipment related to engineering the JIE.

DISA anticipates spending $0 on DoD mobility procurement in FY 2016.

This brings us to RDT&E funding, of which DISA has requested very little. There are no surprises here. The Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) receives most of the funding in this category. Some funding here goes to the DoD Mobility program for “tech insertion and the deployment of two Device Mobile Classified Capability (DMCC) gateways OCONUS which will include Top Secret (TS) and Secret capabilities in the Pacific and Southwest Asia.” Funding for the DISN will focus on the purchasing and testing of “optical and IP routers, switches, and Communications Security equipment” related to the upgrading of DISA’s optical network.

In conclusion, this snapshot of the FY 2016 DISA budget shows that engineering the DISN to provide the backbone for the Joint Information Environment will remain DISA’s highest priority in FY 2016, with funding spread out in all categories of IT spending – O&M, Procurement, and RDT&E.  DISA’s FY 2016 spending will remain heavy on communications and network equipment, with DISA personnel and service contractors already in place providing the support required to install and configure the equipment for the agency.

 

A Look at DISA’s FY 2016 Information Technology Budget

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is playing an increasingly important role in Defense IT, a role that is expected to grow with maturation of the Joint Information Environment (JIE).  Funding for DISA’s programs garners a lot of attention, therefore, as vendors seek to understand where contract dollars in the agency’s IT budget may be going and which Defense organizations are buying DISA’s services.  Today’s post takes a look at the broad outlines of DISA’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year and breaks down some salient points vendors need to know.

DISA’s IT Budget in Context

Where does DISA’s IT budget fit into the broader Department of Defense IT budget request for FY 2016?  The chart below shows the Defense-Wide IT budget for fiscal years 2014 through 2016 alongside DISA’s IT budget for those same years.


As a reminder, the big drop in DISA’s FY 2015 IT budget was caused by a change in the way the DoD CIO calculates the Defense Working Capital Fund.  For FY 2015, funding is now identified in the ‘senders’ accounts (i.e., Defense customers) rather than the investment owner's (i.e., DISA’s) account. 

The FY 2015 calculation change aside, DISA’s proposed IT budget for FY 2016 shows a continuing decline despite the fact that most of the DoD is relying more on the agency for its services.  Overall, DISA’s IT budget is expected to decline from an estimated $3.19B in FY 2015 to $3B in FY 2016, a drop of $190M, or just under 6%.

New Orders from Defense Customers – Computing Services

Moving to the specific services that DISA provides, the chart below shows the orders for DISA’s computing services that Defense customers have placed (or are expected to place, as the case may be) from FY 2014 to FY 2016.


The computing services DISA supplies include Core Data Center services, DoD Enterprise Email, DoD Enterprise Portal Service, GIG Content Delivery Service, and the agency’s milCloud infrastructure service.  The data for these services reveals a few interesting trends.

First, both the Army and Air Force continue to use DISA-provided computing services more than the Navy.  DISA, however, expects orders from Air Force customers to drop in FY 2016, while those from Army customers will grow.  The implications of this are clear for Defense contractors – in FY 2016 the Army will spend less money on contracted efforts for computing services outside of DISA.  Conversely, the Air Force may be a better place to search for specific opportunities in this area.

Second, Defense-Wide appropriations are expected to nearly double, suggesting that the Defense Agencies are continuing to embrace the enterprise services provided by DISA under the JIE concept.

Third, Navy new orders are expected to decline slightly, from $44M in FY 2015 to $42M in 2016.  The Navy’s ongoing flat/declining use of DISA services continues to suggest the service will spend its computing services contract dollars with its big CANES and NGEN prime contractors.  The Marine Corps’ new orders are expected to grow slightly, up from $28M in FY 2015 to $33M in FY 2016.

New Orders from Defense Customers – Telecom/Enterprise Acquisition Services

Turning now to transport and enterprise acquisition services, which DISA reports in combination, the new order trends are similar to those in computing services.


Nearly all parts of DoD are expected to spend more with DISA in FY 2016 than they did in FY 2015.  Only the Navy ($571M in FY 2015 dropping to $569M in FY 2016) and Marines ($111M in FY 2015 dropping to $110M in FY 2016) show declines.  Dropping Navy/USMC spending is consistent with statements by officials from both services that they will continue to rely more heavily on their own networks rather than DISA’s for transport and communications services.

In conclusion, in FY 2016 DISA will continue to play the central role in the DoD’s new Joint Information Environment, with spending on its services by the MILDEPS dependent on the level of each department’s involvement in standing up the JIE.  Spending by the Army, Air Force, and Defense Agencies will continue to be the strongest, while spending by the Navy and Marine Corps continues to lag.

 

New JIE Requirements May Help the “Internet of Things” at the DoD

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is a pretty common phrase these days, with the rapid-expanding interconnectivity of devices and sensors sending information across communications networks, all to achieve greater capabilities, effectiveness, efficiency, and flexibility.  The Department of Defense (DoD) clearly links the growth of emerging, interconnected technologies to the sustained superiority of U.S. defense capabilities, on and off the battlefield, so you could say that the IoT impacts defense IT at all levels.

The key to leveraging the IoT is in harnessing and integrating three key areas:

  • Information – Data from devices and sensors, (e.g. phone, camera, appliance, vehicle, GPS, etc.) and information from applications and systems, (e.g. social media, eCommerce, industrial systems, etc.) provide the content input.
  • Connectivity – Network connections via various wireless capabilities and communications backbones provide the transport links for aggregation and distribution. This facilitates the environment where data meets the power to use that data.
  • Processing – The computational capacity and capabilities to make the data content useful.  This may reside at the device and/or back end and ranges in complexity, (e.g. data analytics, etc.)

 


DoD Implications

The use of integrated networks to connect data with processing capacity to affect outcomes is far from a new idea at the DoD – it gave us much of the warfighting capabilities we have today. But technological evolution has resulted in a growing IoT mentality that goes beyond combat operations. One example is the establishment of the Air Force Installation Service Management Command (AFISMC) to coordinate management and maintenance of resources across Air Force bases and facilities. According to Air Force CTO Frank Konieczny, potential uses of IoT include facilities and vehicle management, logistics and transportation, integrated security, and robotics.

But pervasive connectivity is also creating security ramifications.  In the wake of a network security incident last year, the Navy launched Task Force Cyber Awakening (TFCA) in an effort to protect hardware and software Navy-wide as IoT engulfs everything from weapons systems to shipboard PA systems.

Importance of the JIE

The drive to leverage sensor technologies and data analytics that these technologies enable is a driving force behind the DoD’s Joint Information Environment (JIE) network modernization efforts, so the pace of sensor-based innovation is tied to the success of JIE efforts. Adding potentially tens of thousands of diverse Internet-connected objects to a network that then need to be managed and secured will require proactive IT governance policies to ensure effectiveness, and some provisions in recent law apply.

The FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), passed just last month, requires the DoD CIO to develop processes and metrics within the next six months for measuring the operational effectiveness and efficiency of the JIE. Further, Congress is having the CIO identify a baseline architecture for the JIE and any information technology programs or other investments that support that architecture.

These requirements may stem, in part, from a desire to help formalize and oversee JIE as an investment program, but the resulting baseline architecture will help pave the way to further implement greater IoT capabilities. The data from sensor-based devices will only continue to grow, but to maximize its utility the DoD will need a successful JIE to connect and carry the information.

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Originally published for Federal Industry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of the competition by discovering more about 
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