Unified capabilities speeding to a military near you

Listen to Scott Maucione on Federal News Radio - Feb 13, 2017

If you work in the private sector you’re probably used to using a messaging client like Slack or Skype.

The programs allow users to instant message, chat by video or send audio all from one program. It’s convenient in work spaces that share a lot of data, especially remotely.

While tons of businesses communicate that way, the military still does not. The Defense Information Systems Agency is trying to change that and it wants to do it sooner than expected.

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DISA confirmed to Federal News Radio it will award its Defense Enterprise Operations Solutions (DEOS) contract for unified capabilities almost a year earlier than expected and companies should see the details of the contract in the near future.

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Brian Hermann, DISA enterprise-wide division chief, said the agency will award the DEOS contract in the first quarter of 2018 and will release a draft request for proposals this fiscal quarter.

What’s unique about the DEOS contract is that it is procuring a commercial system.

“DEOS is not a large new appropriation that DISA is trying to push through the Pentagon, but instead it’s a redirection of existing IT spending among our customers, not DISA, that currently consume things that they either provide themselves or they consume contractual services or enterprise services that we currently provide,” Hermann said. “We are looking at this and saying commercial industry has a set of these that they offer to their other commercial partners as a software as a service. We want to go that route where we adopt commercially available services rather than develop custom things.”

Hermann said there is an expectation that DEOS would work like Defense Enterprise Email in that it’s something the military services would subscribe to on their own.

That means the services will have the ability to sign on to the new service when they are ready and have shed their previous legacy systems.

DISA plans to do a phased approach into unified capabilities. DISA itself will adopt the services first.

“Our expectation is that it takes approximately six to nine months to accredit and implement the services in a commercial service provider facility. At that point we would begin migration activities of users onto the server, so DISA would be among that first group. We intend to have licensing available for mission partners to make sure they are ready on their end to consume the services and that’s an interesting challenge for them,” Hermann said. “The speed that we can migrate users depending on the requirements that come to us from the services is going to be a key metric for us. We are looking to be sure we can find all the bottle necks that can slow down migration.”

DISA still cannot say how much the contract will cost, but the agency has done a number of pilots across DoD.

DISA found that despite the success of the pilots, none of the had sufficient scope to serve the whole department.

DEOS’ importance comes from the fact that it is intended to serve the entire department.