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Eye on the enterprise

DISA's Alan Lynn on JIE, cloud brokering and unified capabilities

Mar. 24, 2014
DISA Vice Director MG Alan Lynn.
DISA Vice Director MG Alan Lynn. ()

MG Alan Lynn is vice director of DISA, with primary responsibility at the agency for contracting procurement and financials. Previously, he was commanding general of Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM), which is responsible for all Army communications worldwide, and before that, he was the Army’s 35th Chief of Signal.

Lynn spoke to C4ISR & Networks Editor Barry Rosenberg about Joint Information Environment (JIE) implementation, cloud brokering for DoD and an upcoming RFP for Unified Capabilities.

C4ISRNET: With support of the warfighter a given, what’s at the top of your to-do list?

LYNN: On the top of the stack for us would be the Joint Information Environment, and the people partnering with us are the Army and Air Force.

Most of the work is being done now at an engineering level because we’re just now developing what the JIE is going to look like. It’s a whole new way of doing protection that knocks out a lot of the TLA [top level architecture] stacks that are at every post, camp and station.

All your protection was at each post, camp and station; now we’re pulling it up into more regional protection. You have fewer points of presence out there, but it’s a more robust architecture that handles protection in a much more coherent way with the same types of equipment so there’s standardization across the board. At the same time, you’re building out capacity.

C4ISRNET: And that’s the definition of single security architecture?

LYNN: That is exactly what it is.

We’re also working on enterprise solutions, and the one that probably comes to everybody’s mind is enterprise email. So we’re looking for other opportunities to (implement) enterprise across all the DoD, and, of course, we’re trying to optimize the department’s investments.

So those are the big three we run with most often.

C4ISRNET: What is another enterprise initiative you’re working on?

LYNN: A defense enterprise portal system, like SharePoint, is something we would like to roll out and have everybody come into. It really helps with the future as we look for large data analytics, and sharing is much more robust if we can have all of DoD playing in that same space. That’s another enterprise we plan to build out.

(Page 2 of 3)

C4ISRNET: DISA wants to be the cloud broker for DoD but so far not too many DoD customers have been matched up with actual cloud services. What’s the issue?

LYNN: DISA is transitioning; we were the backbone provider and now we’re becoming more of a service provider. And so we’re learning lessons as we go. One of our plans is — and we’re getting lead to roll this out — is partnering with STRATCOM to roll out a pilot, which will give us at least one offering that we can learn lessons from and bring into our portfolio.

C4ISRNET: Can you describe the pilot for me?

LYNN: We’re looking at Unified Capabilities (UC). I think most of industry is headed in that same direction, and so this will be our first roll out to see what we can learn.

We are in the process of working on an RFP for this STRATCOM pilot, and we’re also working with the Army and the Air Force to actually roll out an RFP for UC. It’s something that’s going to happen probably in FY15, so it’s about to be real to industry.

C4ISRNET: DISA would like the various DoD agencies to come to it first for things like data hosting. What are some of the things you’re offering under this “DISA first” strategy?

LYNN: One is apps rationalization ... (taking) all the different apps everybody has built and rationalize them into a cloud, so they can survive in a cloud.

C4ISRNET: Please define apps rationalization.

LYNN: Developing apps that are easy to download, easy to use and are provided in a more mobile environment is what I mean by rationalize. There are literally thousands of applications that have been written over many years in a lot of different formats. You can go all the way back to COBOL; COBOL is not going to survive in a cloud environment very well. If we can rationalize those into the cloud, I think all the services would agree that everybody would be better off.

Another one is that we’re getting off all the TDM [time division multiplexing] switching copper wire and going to VoIP [voice over Internet Protocol]. Ultimately it’s going to be a big cost savings to us and, in the future, to our customers.

(Page 3 of 3)

Another one is video teleconferencing, moving off of ISDN architecture and going to an IP base, so we can get into more of a high definition space. I’d say those three are on the top of the list.

C4ISRNET: Your mobile device management program for unclassified mobile devices reached initial operational capability at the end of January. Where does MDM go for the rest of this year

LYNN: Within the next 90 days, we’re going to have a spiral approach deploying new capabilities. The next major release is in second quarter FY14, and it’s to add gateway support on the unclassified side.

C4ISRNET: You’re now at DISA after stints at NETCOM and the Signal Center of Excellence. You know a lot about networks, but what have you learned in the last few months since coming back to DISA, where you were the chief of staff in 2007?

LYNN: What’s interesting to see once I’m on the inside of DISA is the move from the backbone provider to the no-kidding-must-provide-that-service-provider look back to our customer. We’ve always been customer focused, but now we are really emphasizing our customer.

Probably the other thing is how quickly DISA is moving out to change the networks ... upgrades, service offerings and increasing the capacity of the backbone, as well, because we see that as a necessary part of the future. ■

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