Army’s ‘link to industry’ keys move to Joint Information Environment

The Defense Department has tasked each of the services and agencies with building or upgrading its network to be part of the Joint Information Environment (JIE).

In time, the JIE will make it easier for service members to share mission information and technology through the use of standards and shared governance.

In the Army, the assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT) is charged with overseeing a portion of the JIE.

Terry Edwards, the director of the Office of the Chief Systems Engineer and chief information officer for ASA (ALT), said the office has three main goals:

  • Take the requirements from the community and make sure all the pieces fit together correctly. “Systems need to be built to standards with interfaces that have been specified so they are built to essentially come as an integrated package,” he said.
  • Collect the requirements and standards to ensure the acquisition of products and services is efficient and effective.
  • Work with the Program Executive Offices to ensure the Army is making the right investments and establishing the best disciplines to buy the IT needed to meet mission.

Edwards said all of these goals come back to the support of the Army’s CIO Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence.

“Gen. Lawrence sets the vision through guidance and policies and we in ASA(ALT) take that and ensure we are buying material solutions to support that capability,” he said. “We are the Army’s link to industry, who is the actual developer of the capabilities.”

Edwards said the Army command and office CIOs spend a lot of time in governance or technology forums to ensure everyone understands the requirements and make sure the requirements form a holistic architecture.

JIE tests underway

The Army already is testing pieces of what will become the JIE.

Edwards said his office helps get to the technology ready for testing.

“Our job is to work with [Gen. Lawrence’s] staff to basically break the concept down into material piece parts and ensuring either we are identifying where we have gaps and going back to industry to identify how to fill those gaps, or where we have solutions, we integrate them to support one network concept,” he said.

Edwards also said he is working with the PEOs to put systems in the cloud. The Army is moving its email to the cloud hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency, and Edwards is exploring what else can move there too.

“We are essentially now building the piece parts,” he said. “We are taking the vision that Gen. Lawrence as proposed to use, [and] we are procuring items, whether it’s network components to increase the bandwidth on our installations, to increase the bandwidth from our installations to the DISN backbone, the superhighway that OSD runs, we are putting components within our installations to facilitate whether it’s datacenters or other pieces to enable a particular installation to access the applications they need to perform their mission. All piece parts are coming together to be part of an installation to support this one network concept.”

The piece parts include cloud, data center consolidation, identity management and upgrading the bandwidth.

Edwards also is leading an effort to analyze applications to determine which ones could be moved to the cloud immediately.

He said he estimates about 25 percent of all current applications are cloud-ready.

“We are doing analysis on the portfolio, making sure we rationalize the systems we have, reduce redundancies and the duplication where we have, and then getting the ones ready to move into the cloud,” Edwards said.

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