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Air Force touts DISA as key partner

Feb. 24, 2014
Lt. Gen. Michael Basla (left), seen here touring the 2nd Space Operations Squadron, looks to DISA to aid the Air Force in several ways. (Air Force)

The Defense Information Systems Agency is emerging as a key player in helping the Air Force acquire more enterprise services.

Air Force officials said they will rely more heavily on DISA as they consolidate and standardize information systems under the Pentagon’s Joint Information Environment Initiative.

“We fundamentally need DISA to be able to deliver us capability as a service, at a very robust and secure and affordable rate, and we need it to scale extensively, and we need it to be flexible enough to meet all of our mission application needs,” said Brig. Gen. Kimberly Crider, mobilization assistant to Air Force CIO and Chief of Information Dominance Lt. Gen. Michael Basla.

Crider, who spoke at a Feb. 11 AFCEA event, said mission needs include command and control applications that require a high degree of security as well as public-facing Web apps. The Air Force is also counting on DISA’s support to move out on unified capabilities that can be integrated around the world.

In terms of cloud computing, Crider noted DISA’s promising capabilities through its milCloud services, which offer on-demand development, test, and production environments.

“We’re hearing a lot about DISA here,” said Lt. Gen. Basla, who also spoke at the event. “So, look for those [request for proposals] for DISA on behalf of the department. Look for RFPs by the Army on behalf of the department.

He said the Air Force is seeking opportunities to lead, follow and partner on contracts for similar efforts.

One example is the Air Force Headquarters’ recent migration to Defense Department Enterprise Email, a cloud service offered by DISA.

There was no reason not to move to enterprise email, said Essye Miller, director of information management and Headquarters Air Force CIO. “The cost to maintain legacy infrastructure was becoming too much in the midst of a fiscal draw-down,” Miller said.

About 7,800 unclassified email accounts and an additional 1,300 mobile devices are now operating on DoD Enterprise Email. Miller said the Air Force expects to begin migrating several thousand classified accounts in March.

She said the Air Force has recouped about $1 million in costs so far.

“We had a lot of angst in the building because people wanted to hold on to that account,” she said. But “if that’s the only thing that you’re worried about, we know we’re doing the right thing.

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