Inside DOD


Amber Corrin

Inside DOD

By Amber Corrin

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Army makes strides in data center consolidation

In keeping with broader Defense Department data center consolidation plans, the Army just announced its own major steps forward in reducing its vast quantities of servers and data centers.

The Army IT Agency says it has eliminated more than 30 thousand square feet of data center flooring under Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative efforts. The agency says it also has reduced user-software license cost by 10 percent, increased processor performance by 40 percent through mainframe efficiencies and increased server virtualization capacity by 30 percent, according to its news release.

"As the information technology service provider for the Pentagon and the National Capital Region, we consistently strive to meet the technology demands of our customers and support the mission of America's war fighters," ITA Executive Director Donald Adcock said in the release.

That support includes the hosting of mission-essential data on more than 6,500 servers for customers including the White House, the Red Cross and the entire Army Department headquarters.

In August, DOD CIO Teri Takai announced plans to shut down 44 military data centers by the end of fiscal 2011. As that deadline approaches, her office has yet to respond to requests for more information on exactly which data centers those will include, but Takai said last month that at least eight centers have already closed.

“DOD remains committed to identifying candidates for data center closure and consolidation in support of the [defense secretary’s] efficiency efforts and the IT Reform plan goal of closing 800 federal data centers by 2015,” Takai wrote in a blog post on cio.gov. "We are making progress on several initiatives that will increase our efficiency and effectiveness in developing systems to support our nation’s warfighters, without sacrificing security."

Posted on Sep 16, 2011 at 7:25 PM0 comments


DOD to announce cyber strategy: What to expect

The Defense Department is gearing up to release an unclassified version of its first overarching strategy for cyberspace operations.

The official announcement of the Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace will come the afternoon of July 14 from outgoing Deputy Secretary William Lynn, who will speak at the campus of the National Defense University in Washington. Lynn is expected to outline the strategy and answer press questions.

However, published reports indicate the public likely won’t be getting a meaty description of DOD operations in cyberspace. In the past, Lynn and other DOD officials have warned of the dangers of cyberattacks, but little has been said publicly about how the department defends against such attacks or how it runs offense against adversaries.

In the past, Lynn has spoken about the nascent cyber strategy. On the circuit at various conferences, he has acknowledged the lack of cohesive governance as a critical issue.

“Until recently, the military’s cyber effort was run by a loose confederation of joint task forces spread too far and too wide, both geographically and institutionally, to be fully effective,” he said in May 2010 at a U.S. Strategic Command Cyber Symposium in Omaha, Neb.

According to Stars and Stripes, at the RSA conference in San Francisco in February, Lynn said the DOD strategy will hinge on active defense systems, planning and coordination with the Homeland Security Department and a strong public-private partnership – comments that echo what Lynn has said at other speaking engagements.

Still, expect the bulk of the juicy details of DOD’s cyber arsenal to be absent from the unclassified release.

“The unclassified version, you will find, follows much of what was in the administration’s [international cyber strategy released in May],” Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan told reporters at the Pentagon July 11, per Stars and Stripes. “This isn’t about acts of war – this is about an overall cyber strategy, and how we defend ourselves against cyber threats.”

Even if it is a watered-down version that is released to the public, it sets the stage for discussions set to take place in coming days in Washington. The July 15 AFCEA Cybersecurity Summit will have several DOD officials on tap, discussing network security, the U.S. Cyber Command and related issues.

At 1105 Media’s upcoming FOSE conference July 19-21, several different aspects of cybersecurity will be discussed by an array of high-level government officials and industry insiders. 1105 Media is the parent company of Federal Computer Week and Defense Systems, which publish the Inside DOD blog.

Posted on Jul 13, 2011 at 7:25 PM3 comments


How ready are we for cyberspace?

The trouble with cyberspace is that little is defined, many Defense Department officials say. There aren’t the maps of physical terrain that are used every day in military operations. As far as official word goes, a year after the establishment of the Cyber Command, policies and doctrine are still being worked out. Little is publicly known about what’s in America’s cyber arsenal — or about the policies that govern it.

What is clear: The DOD approach to cyberspace needs to be much different than traditional operations.

“We can’t dominate cyberspace — the buy-in for bad actors is too low. We should secure cyberspace in a way that makes it impossible for others to dominate,” said Army Col. Jeffery Schilling, chief of current operations at Army Cyber Command. Schilling, June 28 at the IDGA Cyber Warfare and Security Summit in Washington. Schilling stressed that his comments were strictly his own opinion and not representative of DOD.

Schilling said the imminent steps in making cyber defense progress include better definitions for the territory and operations.

“We need to draw a line around cyberspace before the U.S. can exercise governance,” Schilling said, noting that it needs to be determined what exactly to protect. “If you don’t know what’s inside the borders, how can you know what to protect?”

He added that hostile acts and intent — and assigned federal jurisdictions — still need definitions, too.

What’s unique about cyberspace and what makes things more complicated is some of the domain's key attributes: It’s a man-made global commons, and for the most part, it isn’t government owned or operated, Schilling pointed out.

Its borderless existence means there’s no distinction between inside and outside the lines. It’s a virtual environment with no dimensions. Traditional borders have depended on physical geographical boundaries and attributes, of which there are none in cyberspace.

Schilling suggested that cyberspace be treated as sovereign-less space, like the open sea or Antarctica. To address the critical issue of anonymity, he also suggested users and equipment have flags like ships do for identification purposes. This would require international policy and cooperation, he added.

The question is: How much of this is already under way at DOD, and how much of it still remains to even be considered?

Posted on Jun 29, 2011 at 7:25 PM3 comments


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