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Military IT's Future Stresses Cloud, Mobile

Military's IT agency has released a plan for Department of Defense's belt-tightening and shifting strategies during the next five years.

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The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) released a five-year strategic plan Tuesday outlining how the agency will navigate a possibly decreasing military and IT budget and military priorities that are increasingly shifting away from Afghanistan and Iraq.

From a technological standpoint, DISA is looking to facilitate an increasingly enterprise-oriented Department of Defense that shares IT resources across numerous services, relies heavily on cloud computing and mobile technologies, and continues to push the boundaries of cybersecurity.

However, topping the list of "strategic shifts" that DISA plans to tackle by 2018 is the plan to help support the Department of Defense as it builds a stronger defensive posture in the Asia-Pacific region, giving DISA a broader and more global focus.

[ Federal agencies are moving to the next stage of their cloud initiatives. Read more at 10 Developments Show Government Cloud Maturing. ]

DISA's emphasis on enterprise and cloud services dovetails with the goal of supporting a shifting and possibly growing global footprint for the U.S. military in the face of budget pressure. It also aligns well with the priorities of Department of Defense CIO Teri Takai, who has regularly touted the benefits of cloud computing and increasingly joint operation across the DOD.

DISA hopes to accelerate the move to enterprise services by eating its own dog food and jumping at the chance to adopt new military-wide apps and services. "DISA will serve as DOD's early adopter for new enterprise capabilities," the strategy says. "This will allow us to validate that capability meets the stated requirements, identify and resolve any issues with the capability, and demonstrate the operational viability of the capability."

Cloud computing could also help with that. DISA says it intends to become the military's Cloud Services Broker and thus a key point of contact for all of the Department of Defense's cloud computing needs. The agency has numerous cloud computing initiatives underway, with efforts like

Mobility is another key in a time of shifting global priorities. While the military services increasingly adopt even commercial mobile technologies for broad use by most soldiers, DISA promises that it will develop mobile applications and use agile development to develop and upgrade apps more quickly.

In terms of cybersecurity, the strategy indicates that DISA will continue to work with Cyber Command to more readily meet the military's cybersecurity needs.

In addition to the primary pieces of strategy, DISA's strategy also outlines a "technology watch list" of important technologies that will prepare it for the future, including high-performance (100-Gbps or more) optical networking technologies, disruption-tolerant networking technologies, cloud computing, big data, enterprise management, mobile technologies, identity and access management, and "cross-domain technologies."

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