3 important IT trends to watch in 2017—Part I

Stephanie Meloni_65x85dod2017_010317By Stephanie Meloni, consultant

It’s the first week of the new year. Do you know how you’ll make money in 2017?

If you’re selling to the Department of Defense or want to, we’ve narrowed down the three areas where we expect to see investments. Assuming we get funding in line with the FY17 requests, we’re looking at about a 1 percent increase for the overall DOD IT budget. It sounds measly but we’re talking about a $400 million bump.

So here’s where you should be focused:

1. Cybersecurity

DOD’s FY17 budget request calls for a 35 percent increase in cybersecurity spending, up $900 million over FY16.

One focus area for DOD will be on the convergence of physical and cyber. The military has a large collection of connected sensors, ships and facilities. Senior leaders want tech companies to not just build in security from the development phase but throughout the lifetime of the asset.

DOD is also trying to figure out how to respond to cyber attacks and is pushing to increase effectiveness around proactive or offensive responses. Tools that map the digital battlefield with a special focus on identifying cyber vulnerabilities will be in high demand. Tech companies should be talking to chief information security officers at the service branches and combatant commands as DOD shapes its strategy around cyber offense and cyber deterrence.

Mobile security and wrapping data with appropriate security measures will also be a DOD focus this year. Say good-bye to card-based identity and access management. The department will rely more on behavioral analysis and biometrics to determine insider threats.

Cybersecurity’s also going to be a hotbed for automation. The military services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense agencies are looking for ways to automate patching and other security measures within their enterprises. Right now cyber is too manual and reactive, making it difficult to achieve real-time situational awareness.

2. Cloud

DOD leaders want to move as much workload to the cloud as possible, freeing up staff to rededicate resources and bring down costs. The move lets agencies depend less on proprietary data warehouses and leverage cheaper commercial storage alternatives.

Defense agencies are opting for on-premise storage to avoid having certain data sit on DOD property. But senior leaders also see the off-premise commercial cloud as the way to go given that it’s the biggest bang for the buck in terms of sharing costs across multiple partners.

Where industry and DOD are going to need to work together is in situations where multiple cloud service providers are involved. DOD leaders want to be able to move data to another CSP if it’s attacked. DOD is also concerned with automated patching with multiple CSPs involved and ensuring the government network security providers have visibility on the readiness and defense of their applications that are renting space in the commercial cloud.

3. Advanced analytics

The majority (about 75 percent) of a Defense analyst’s time is spent on data preparation and hygiene. So it’s no surprise that DOD wants to let computers do the data organizing so staff can use it to make queries. This will also help with the shortage of data scientists and experts in this field.

Human-machine learning and artificial intelligence are leap-ahead technologies. But agencies need help collecting the right data—pointing to a need for knowledge and ease of applying analytics to operations. The volume of data that the government is using and generating is often described as, “drowning in data, starving for knowledge.”

Cyber is also an area where the government will want to automate analytics, ultimately getting predictive and increasing threat detection. DOD customers will be looking to automate the monitoring of cyber threats, allowing analysts or operators to spend more time strengthening their networks.

Looking for more insight on DOD spending in 2017? Listen to our recent FY17 DOD Budget Briefing. And make sure to catch our next blog post on where Civilian agencies will be focusing their IT investments this year.

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