Future Operating Concept Creating Opportunities for Tech Companies

Air Force Graphic_240x138Stephanie Meloni_65x85By Stephanie Meloni, Senior Analyst

The Air Force is starting to shift IT priorities toward space, cyberspace, and C2ISR, which speaks to the service’s overall plan for future operations. The Air Force will want to achieve dominance across all domains in order to enable air superiority. This will be one of many topics covered during my one-hour Webinar on Air Force IT Sales Opportunities: Where to Aim High in FY17 on May 12.

The Air Force Future Operating Concept will depend on operating in a multi-domain environment. This means the Air Force wants to synchronize information coming from air, ground, intelligence, and especially cyberspace in order to get the full picture of what is happening across the warfighting domain.

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3 Ways Industry Can Help Government Cloud Adoption

Lloyd McCoy Jr.By Lloyd McCoy Jr., DOD Manager

If you attended our recent Cloud Briefing & GCloud Briefing 41216-3overnment Panel, you likely heard a recurring message from the federal leaders who spoke: They need help from industry.

Moving to the cloud has been a bigger challenge than expected as summed up by Office of the DOD CIO cloud lead Robert Vietmeyer, who spoke on our government panel: “This stuff is hard. Leadership is bought into your marketing pitch,” he told attendees, largely representing cloud providers. “We all want better, faster, cheaper. We just found it’s more difficult to get from where we are today to where we all want to be.”

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Automation and Cybersecurity Take Center Stage in Air Force FY15 IT Modernization Priorities

Stephanie Headshot 65x85by Stephanie Meloni, Senior Analyst

Last week, key Air Force Fighter Jetleaders engaged with industry at AFCEA NOVA’s Air Force IT Day to speak about opportunities and challenges their organizations are facing, and where they need industry support. The Air Force is the only one of the military services to request an increase in their IT budget for FY15; within their $5.9B request for FY15, about $2.3B is earmarked for capital expenditures for the Air Force to purchase new technologies and capabilities. This shows their commitment to focus on more innovative solutions that meet challenges they face every day. The Air Force wants to be able to incorporate more emerging technologies into their operations and leverage inputs from experts in industry, academia, and the rest of DOD.

Since Air Force’s main priority for FY15 is IT modernization, they’re going to want to spend theirs IT dollars on either technologies that will help them save money on operations —which allows them to divert funds to modernization efforts — or technologies that will help drive new and innovative capabilities.

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Opportunities on the Horizon within DISA Part 1

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

This week DISA’s Director of Strategic Planning and Information, Tony Montemarano, met with industry partners to give an update on DISA’s major initiatives in the pipeline. As I pointed out in a Webinar earlier this year, DISA is at the heart of major enterprise wide initiatives for DOD; in addition to legacy roles like command and control, hosting, and telecommunications, newer initiatives like DOD Enterprise Portal Service, Defense Enterprise Mobility (classified and unclassified), Enterprise Directory Services, Unified Communications, and Global Network Services provide a wealth of opportunities for COTS vendors. Today I’ll be diving into Mr. Montemarano’s update on how DISA is faring in this fiscal environment and what the agency is doing in the areas of cloud procurement.

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The Future of the Joint Information Environment (JIE)…

Stephanie Headshot 65x85by Stephanie Meloni, Senior Analyst

Last week DISA and key Army leaders convened with industry at an AFCEA DC luncheon to weigh-in on the Army’s future IT priorities, address the current status of some of their larger efforts, and discuss available funding. Of course, JIE was weighing heavy on everyone’s mind; the Air Force, Army, and DISA continue to be committed to partnering together, implementing projects for shared architectures and services.

Here are key projects all three agencies are working on:

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FY15 Defense IT Budget Forecast: Cloudy with No Chance of Sequestration

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

The FY15 base DOD budget request came in at $495.6 billion, (about even with FY14) but more importantly, it’s under OMB’s budgetary caps, meaning sequestration isn’t in the cards for this year. Diving into the DOD IT budget, we see a 6% drop from FY14 to about $36.4 billion; fortunately, much of this decline has to do with a shrinking workforce and cost-savings generated by earlier IT investments.

Soldier with Flag Draped in BackgroundYes the budget is down 6% from last year, but before you go running for the hills, it’s important to remember the following: while the IT budget is reduced from FY14, agencies that purchased software are continuing to purchase software— and with no sequestration and government shutdown in sight, we’re positioned to see a better FY15 than we did FY13.

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Up to Speed on NETCENTS-2?

Photo of Doug Gainesby Doug Gaines, Director of Corporate Development

Air Force customers released the first RFQs through the newly awarded NETCENTS-2 Products contract in January, and the last few weeks have shown a steady rise in activity. Is your team engaged and ready to leverage it?

In our discussions with clients and partners, we have found many to be surprised by the contract’s flexibility and ease of use.  For example: Read more of this post

What Air Force Wants in a Cloud Broker

Stephanie Headshot 65x85by Stephanie Meloni, Senior Analyst

Speaking at an AFCEA event, held January 17, Dr. Tim Rudolph, U.S. Air Force Senior Leader for Integrated Information Capabilities, stressed that the Air Force is moving to the cloud too slowly. He admitted that the organization is behind on implementation and that a cultural change is needed. Along with the Navy and Marine Corps, the Air Force appears reluctant to adopt Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) as their cloud broker. At a separate AFCEA event, held January 21, DISA program managers were in agreement that cultural change is needed when vetting solutions across DOD agencies with “140+ engineers in a room”— each one wanting their own perfect solution.

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DOD Cloud Demand Increases, but DISA’s Role May Change

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

DISA’s role as the central broker and provider of cloud services for all of DOD is in jeopardy. Back in July 2012, Department CIO, Teresa Takai designated the agency as the DOD cloud broker. That means DISA manages the use, performance, and delivery of cloud services for DOD customers. The precursor to this designation was, DISA First, a policy where Defense agencies would consider the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) for data hosting before considering other options. The outcome of these policies, ideally, was DISA being the key facilitator for all things cloud. So far these strategies have worked with mixed success.

DISA’s $450 million draft RFP, released in the summer to supplement its private cloud services with commercial cloud offerings is now being revisited because of lukewarm buy-in from the rest of the Department. Also, Takai’s push toward a cloud-based and DISA managed enterprise email system is facing resistance from important DOD stakeholders like Navy and Air Force. The consistent thread through all of the opposition is cost, as many within the military branches believe it would be cheaper to purchase cloud services directly from industry. Also, while they may not say it publicly, there is resistance within many in the Department to outsourcing cloud procurement outside of their respective silo. The result is that DISA’s first two major initiatives, the cloud contract and enterprise email, have met mixed success.

That’s not to say that adoption of cloud technology is shrinking within DOD. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act directed that DOD move in the direction of adopting cloud solutions for its data. Trends suggest the Department is indeed following this mandate. Cloud image 2The Navy, for example, is working with commercial cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) for many of its public websites. The Pentagon is still closing data centers and reducing applications, thus increasing the need for cloud services down the road. These are just a couple of the many examples of cloud adoption spreading across the Department.

Expect cloud buyers to be distributed across the Department and less focused around DISA, an outcome that Teri Takai may not have wanted, but one that doesn’t necessarily impact the dollars spent on cloud offerings. DISA will still play a key role in cloud implementation and management for the Department, particularly with regard to private hosting requirements, like for sensitive, non-public data. Also, the Joint Information Environment, a conceptual end-state featuring interconnected and shared IT infrastructure across the DOD enterprise will rely on core data centers that will be managed by DISA. That will not change.

If you are selling cloud services into the Department, know that trends toward cloud adoption are here to stay and be aware of the following challenges they have highlighted as pain points:

  • Cyber security
  • Continuity of operations
  • Resilience
  • Data migration and management
  • Overcoming network dependence in low-bandwidth environment

The bottom line is that if you are a cloud provider working in the Defense market, whether your particular DOD agency or military branch is pursuing a go-it-alone strategy or going through DISA, the cloud market for DOD will remain robust for the foreseeable future.

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