DoD Identifies Tech Needs in New Digital Modernization Strategy

Published: July 18, 2019

Big DataCloud ComputingCybersecurityDEFENSEPolicy and Legislation

The Department of Defense has released a new information technology modernization strategy that includes its emerging technology needs for the future.

In mid-July, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its DoD Digital Modernization Strategy, presenting its IT-related modernization goals and objectives in support of the U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS). The DMS also serves as the DoD’s Information Resource Management (IRM) Strategic Plan, last released in April 2014.

The DoD’s approach to IT modernization focuses on the ongoing Joint Information Environment (JIE) Framework and places significant emphasis on strengthening cybersecurity. In addition to cybersecurity, other key DoD CIO priorities include leveraging cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and enhanced command, control and communications (C3) capabilities.

In its modernization strategy the DoD is exploring a number of technologies that have the promise to provide increased effectiveness, efficiency, and security. These technologies include:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) – The DoD expects AI to impact force application, force protection, training, logistics, C4ISR, cyberspace operations, back-office business functions and nearly every other area of the DoD. The Joint AI Center (JAIC), the lead for the DoD’s AI strategy, is identifying appropriate AI use cases, rapidly piloting solutions, and scaling successes across the DoD enterprise.
  • Big Data Analytics – The DoD’s approach to Big Data Analytics is based upon DISA’s Big Data Platform (BDP), a secure, extensible, scalable, agile, and open infrastructure platform designed to provide a distributed computing solution that can ingest, store and visualize multiple petabytes of data from multiple sources. DoD is pursuing machine learning and predictive analytics to forecast behavior scenarios.
  • Evergreen IT Approaches – The DoD is interested in methods for the perpetual refreshing of end-user software, hardware, and associated services such as mailboxes, telephony, file storage, and the infrastructure supporting the technology. The approach involves both people and processes, impacts procurement as well as deployment, and holds promise for real-time awareness of the IT modernization environment.
  • DevSecOps – Efforts to deploy Agile software development that extends to collaboration between IT development, security and IT operations continues to evolve. The DoD continues to pursue the tools, services, and standards that enables it to build, test, and release software applications and services faster, more reliably and more securely.
  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) – Driven by desires for cost reduction, centralized management and deployment speed, the DoD is pursuing HCI of software-defined capabilities with integrated compute, storage, networking, and virtualization resources that run on commodity hardware. This includes Software-defined storage (SDS) technologies.
  • Serverless, or Event-Driven, Computing – DoD is pursuing appropriate use of a cloud services model where they only pay for the number of transactions that the function executes, versus server compute time. Applications include image processing and database updates.
  • Software Defined Networking (SDN) – The DoD is looking at software-based networking tools for network administrators to manage network traffic as well as deploy services to wherever needed in the network in a hardware-agnostic way. SDN favors less expensive commodity switches and enables more control over network traffic flow.
  • Block Chain Cybersecurity Shield –DARPA is starting to experiment with blockchain to create a robust and secure platform that will allow personnel from anywhere to transmit secure messages or process transactions that can be traced through numerous channels of a decentralized ledger. DARPA is also considering blockchain to help in developing unhackable code.
  • Cryptographic Modernization – The DoD continues its efforts to re-engineer and replace obsolete cryptographic capabilities with modern capabilities that meet the challenges of advancements in computer processing power.
  • Quantum Computing – The DoD is exploring the use of quantum mechanics applied to computing and information processing in ways that could vastly improve DoD’s communications and computing capabilities.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) – The DoD continues to explore its extensive and expanding use of sensors across the enterprise to sense, predict, and respond to various needs and inform decision-making.
  • 5G – The evolution of the next generation of mobile network technologies has the DoD looking at the potential for delivering new levels of wireless network performance, capabilities, and efficiencies. In addition to deploying various emerging technologies, the DoD in interested in the development of “trusted” and “assured” 5G networks that do not inherit vulnerabilities from previous generations. Potential applications include National Leadership Command Capabilities (NLCC) National Security networking, IoT base surveillance/perimeter security and base/post private communication networks. Supply chain risk is a significant concern.
  • Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) – The DoD sees IPv6 as an enabler for smart infrastructure, cloud services, automotive Ethernet and 5G network capabilities. It also recognized the network efficiencies and cost implications of IPv6.
  • Passive Optical Network (PON) – DoD sees this point-to-multipoint network architecture as a means to reduce network infrastructure and lower the associated operational and maintenance costs while increasing performance and security.
  • Zero Trust Security – The DoD CIO – with DISA, USCYBERCOM and the NSA – is investigating a data-centric security model that embeds security throughout the architecture, with impacts to network configuration, software defined networking, data tagging, analytics, access control, policy orchestration, encryption, and automation, as well as end-to-end identity, credential, and access management (ICAM). ZTS also influences or is dependent upon commercial cloud deployments, security automation, cryptographic modernization and advanced analytics.
  • Microelectronics – The DoD’s dependence on microelectronics for current and future defense capabilities as well as risks associated with the current competitive landscape is spurring their efforts to strengthen the U.S. semiconductor and microelectronics ecosystem. Look for the DoD to sustain its demand for both legacy components and state of the art microelectronics technologies.

For additional analysis on these and other IT efforts at the DoD check out the following Deltek reports: Defense IT Priorities and Strategies, 2018-2023 and Federal Information Technology Market, 2019-2024