The Joint Information Environment (JIE): Areas of Opportunity

Published: October 16, 2013

USAFARMYBig DataCloud ComputingDEFENSEDISAIntelligenceJoint Information Environment (JIE)Unified Communications

The Defense Department is creating a new common operating environment it calls the Joint Information Environment. Work related to the JIE will benefit vendors across the hardware, software, and services segments of Federal IT and present the contractor community with the largest business opportunity in FY 2014 and beyond.

In a blog post published last May, I outlined the evolution of the Defense Department’s Joint Information Environment, or JIE, as I understood it at the time.  My purpose in writing the post was to clarify the short-, mid-, and long-term objectives of DoD’s JIE strategy for readers confused about what was happening.  Confusion is certainly warranted in this case as contract opportunities surrounding the JIE have not amounted to much.  I believe this is about to change as multiple, simultaneous JIE efforts take off in FY 2014.  All of this assumes of course that the federal government eventually returns to functioning in a somewhat normal manner.  Once that occurs, I expect the forthcoming business opportunities associated with the JIE will be tremendous.
A lot of new information about the JIE has come to light since last spring.  This information has filled in a number of blanks, and while numerous gaps remain, enough details have been made public to determine where areas of opportunity are beginning to surface.  To illustrate where these areas are I put together a graphic depicting the JIE.  The gold-colored text and shading are the parts of the environment where I believe work will be required.

The Joint Information Environment (JIE)

The graphic shows two levels where JIE related work is either taking place now or will be required in the near future.  These levels are at the Military Departments (MILDEPS) and at the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).  Starting with the MILDEPS, all indications are that the Army is currently at the center of JIE-related work.  These efforts are focused on integrating new network hardware to enable interoperability.  For example, Army officials recently announced that Congressional reprogramming of funds have enabled it to make a large bulk purchase of Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) routers.  In addition, the Army has been authorized to spend $175 million in FY 2014 to implement Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) with nodes in the U.S. and in the Middle East.

These efforts are intended to rapidly increase the bandwidth capability of Army networks and to lay groundwork for the creation of a MPLS transport cloud in FY 2014.  Once the Army has completed the installation of the new equipment, it will turn it over to DISA for operation and maintenance (truly a joint endeavor).  The Air Force has also embarked on MPLS installation for the same purposes as the Army.  I have no information on activities like these on the Navy.  Lastly, all of the Services will continue consolidating data centers, rationalizing applications, and collapsing/integrating networks on standards that conform to JIE requirements.

This takes us to DISA and the portion of the graphic that is in the cloud.  The implementation of new, faster hardware at the MILDEP level will enable DISA and commercial partners to deliver capabilities and services via a series of clouds.  This means not only procuring the capabilities DISA will deliver (e.g., Unified Communications), but also setting up the processes required to utilize commercial cloud services and cloud storage.  Then there are the efforts that will be required to build out Acropolis, the new Defense analytics cloud, and, presumably, to integrate DISA’s cloud infrastructure with the IC IT Environment (IC ITE).
Clearly the promise of the JIE is on the road to becoming reality.  Hardware vendors will benefit from the build out of transport capabilities and need for storage.  Software vendors will provide cloud-based applications, data analytics, and cyber security tools.  Services vendors will help DISA pull it all together.  Taking this into consideration, expect creating the JIE to be the biggest business opportunity in federal IT in 2014 and beyond.