Navy Creating Waves of Change in IT Security, Infrastructure, and Mobility

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Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

Recently I attended an AFCEA luncheon with Janice Haith, the deputy CIO for the Navy; her remarks provided valuable insights on where the Navy stands with IT reform, specifically in the areas of security, infrastructure, and mobility. From possibly doing away from NIPRNET to challenges in consolidation efforts, I thought I would share some highlights with you:

NIPRNET No More?

Many, including myself, were surprised to hear news that the Navy is evaluating whether or not they will continue using DOD’s unclassified network, the NIPRNET. The Department is trying to figure out whether the information flowing across the NIPRNET is really worth the cost of maintenance. The Navy is also thinking about using WiFi in conjunction with the Secret level network, SIPRNET, and plans to conduct pilots to see if it’s feasible and secure.

On a related note, Haith announced plans for 100% of Navy ships to be SIPRNET enabled and accessible by a military identification card. Identity and access management is a huge challenge for the Department. They want to do away with requiring cards and tokens, but at the same time improve their ability to control who has access to their network. Haith noted the Navy is looking but just hasn’t yet found the right solution.

Roadblocks in Consolidation Efforts

On the infrastructure front, Haith hinted at a possible delay in the Navy’s big consolidation of its afloat networks, CANES, due to a recent upheld protest. A delay is inevitable given the aggressive installment schedule expected to start after the protest period ended. When the program is restarted, expect the Navy to revise the network’s security related requirements as it seeks to stay current. Meanwhile, the Navy plans to consolidate all but a couple of its’ ashore networks into the Next Generation Enterprise Network.

Data Center Closures Pave the Way for Cloud Vendors

Haith provided an update on the Navy’s data center consolidation efforts. By her count, the Navy is down to 140 data centers — with 75 scheduled to be closed this year — and indicated the Navy may ultimately settle with having just one Naval Enterprise Data Center (instead of the previously announced three). The Navy is committed to working with commercial cloud vendors to host their data. Pilots are underway with two commercial cloud vendors and as FedRAMP approves new ones, the Navy wants to adopt more commercial data centers than originally anticipated. Expect a revised DOD cloud computing strategy to hit the streets in the coming week, which will make it easier for commercial cloud vendors to find opportunities in DOD.

The Navy is also exploring Virtual Data Centers (VDC) and the kinds of information they can host within a VDC. Expect a decision in about 18 months. Haith also announced plans for the Navy to field their own enterprise portal, foregoing DISA’s more costly enterprise wide portal. SPAWAR is preparing the solicitation.

In one of the biggest announcements, the Navy is seriously considering joining the JRSS project, DOD’s single security architecture. Previously, the Navy had adopted a wait and see approach. JRSS nodes in San Diego, Norfolk and Bahrain will likely be installed by the Navy and Haith expects the Navy will have its allocated JRSS installs completed by FY18 — two years behind the Army and Air Force. Stay tuned for a public announcement by the end of the calendar year.

Mobility Ramping Up in FY15

There were also a couple of developments on the mobility front. Starting in January, as part of the Defense Department’s mobility program, the Navy will expand from using solely Blackberry devices to Android and IOS enabled phones. Additionally, expect a RFI soon from the Naval Reserves for an Apps Mall. Haith indicated the Navy would probably expand this effort to the entire department. Lastly, by FY16, the Navy would begin transitioning to a tablet environment. These tablets will replace desktops, dramatically accelerating mobility within the Defense Department. This is going to be great opportunity for anyone involved in storage, application development, security, and application servers.

The Department of the Navy is making inroads in consolidating its infrastructure, embracing mobility, and figuring out smart approaches to its security posture because it must. The Navy is expected to play a major role in the DOD’s shift to the Pacific region in the coming years but with stagnant growth in budgets and force size. As the Market Intelligence team discussed in the FY15 Defense Budget Briefing, the Navy is looking for ways technology can offset budget and force size stagnation with speed to market, simplification, and interoperability being key.

About Lloyd McCoy Jr.
Lloyd McCoy is the Department of Defense Consultant on the Market Intelligence team. Prior to working for immixGroup, he worked in the public sector as a senior analyst with the Defense Department. Lloyd primarily monitors and analyzes issues relating to the Navy/Marine Corps, Defense Health Agency, and the Defense Information Systems Agency

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