AFCEA NOVA Navy IT Day: Do More with Less

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This year’s AFCEA NOVA Naval IT Day, held on 3 May 2012, focused on the receptivity of program offices to new methods and ideas, and decision superiority through the Joint Information Enterprise (JIE), a network of common formats, standards, policies and securities across all DoD services and supporting agencies. These needs, shared against a background message of budget cuts, created an overarching theme of “Do more with less.”

The keynote talk was presented by Vice Admiral Harris (Asst Chairman, JCoS) who emphasized the need for efficient and effective delivery of decision superiority with every dollar. He pointed out that although JIE is being rolled out in European and Pacific theaters, many of the single identity access, common services, cloud application and storage, standardization and oversight issues have not been resolved, and that these issues are compounded in the DoN theaters requiring both ashore and afloat solutions.

Terry Halvorsen (CIO DoN) themed that reduced budgets will fuel innovation. Today’s complex environments need to be understood from data, operations and workflow perspectives before applying IT: Business process analyses and reengineering needs to drive IT solutions – not the other way around – and that downstream impacts and implications of “solutions” must be understood and resolved in advance of system failures. In Halvorsen’s words, “this is not just getting the requirements right; it calls for a close and complete dialogue between government and industry.”[For Segue followers, these themes should resonate with the way we do business.] The DoN CIO went on to ask for the reduction of customized applications in favor of standardization and tailoring of off-the-shelf solutions; ideas that promote the best interests of the Navy writ large, not just for a specific program office, especially in moving to cloud computing; and solutions that will help the DoN track where it’s spending its money from sponsor to vendor.

Rear Admiral Leighter (OPNAV N2/J6F) spoke on the continued need to ensure communication and related areas are not denied Naval forces. With increasing reliance on cyber-based systems, the Navy is reprising HF and VLF radio-based networking systems, and is investing heavily in sensor-based UAVs that are autonomous and self-tasking, and that communicate directly with the network for data relay. This in turn requires common and standardized data formats and services, and large amounts of data storage.

The future of cloud versus computing centers was the subject of a panel discussion featuring Terry Simpson (CTO, USMC), Rear Admiral Simpson (Vice Director, DISA), Jack Gumtow (OPNAV, N2N6F1) and CAPT Cross (Dep Dir, OUSD-Intelligence). The JIE is being developed under DISA with a common rate card for services, with common security, and a standard set of services to serve as a backbone for theater and local networks. In needing to deploy rapidly as self-contained MAGTF units, the Marines are relying on their own Kansas City-based enterprise center – a theme which was echoed in BGen Nally’s (Dir C4/CIO, USMC) talk. At the same time, all Services are driving toward mobile devices, and DISA is moving to approve NIPRnet networking to the Android platform within a few months, and SIPRnet and JWICS services within a year.

In summary, the Navy is seeking to modernize and strengthen their IT posture through the JIE, cyber-based systems, cloud computing, and mobile applications. However, this must be accomplished under reduced budgets, by focusing on standardization to leverage affordable solutions across the enterprise.