The Key to the Joint Information Environment: On-Demand Services

The following is an excerpt from the GovLoop Guide, The Joint Information Environment: The IT Framework for the Future. You can access the full report here, in which we describe the JIE and impact it is making at the Department of Defense. 

The Joint Information Environment (JIE) framework will build a modernized IT infrastructure at the DoD. The JIE framework will consist of a converged infrastructure and provide agency personnel, both civilian and military, access to the tools needed to complete complex missions.

To achieve the desired end state of JIE, one critical element will be facilitating on-demand services. These services will provide the DoD access to computing, software or network services as needed, and in real-time. This will help to control costs and avoid purchasing costly IT infrastructure, while providing both civilian and military personnel access to data across the globe.

Recently GovLoop spoke with industry experts from ViON, a company that works with the largest original equipment manufacturer (OEM) suppliers in the industry to design and implement custom IT solutions, on how on-demand services are critical to the success of the JIE framework.

“Along with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), ViON has been a pioneer in the on-demand services delivery,” said Jon Garing the vice president of ViON. “We can take the lessons we have learned from contracts with DISA and use those on-demand models to take away the worry of over provisioning and having to buy infrastructure, and rather, provide services like compute, storage and network on-demand, DoD leadership has been pushing JIE with agility in mind, and that has so many benefits, you can actually evolve the service as the technology changes.”

Although on-demand services are essential, it is also imperative to remember how the nature of the DoD’s work has evolved. “In every combat campaign, we always fight jointly,” said Richard Breakiron the senior director of cyber solutions at ViON. “We no longer fight as an Army, Air Force, Navy; we always fight jointly, and critical to that joint fight is the management of information, so decision-makers can ensure soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen are kept safe and out of harms way.”

Certainly, one core component of on-demand services will be cloud computing. “The cloud is a model of various flavors and various technologies, that simply provides a place for people to discover information, share and collaborate in its fundamental nature,” said Garing.

Since the JIE is not a program of record, organizations will face cultural barriers to deploy the framework. One of the cultural issues is that each agency within the DoD is accustomed to doing projects and managing IT in a certain way, and will need to transition to a new set of norms and standards.

“The biggest challenges are around interoperability, and there are some cultural challenges as well, since each of the services believe they have solved certain problems the right way,” explained Breakiron.

Although there have been challenges to deploying the JIE, Breakiron reminds us of one project that has already been successful and bodes well for the eventual adoption of the JIE. “One of the joint programs that has been a tremendous success, that people don’t talk about enough, is the common access card. Here is a joint program that was implemented where all of DoD is all on one identity card, a critical piece. JIE can be done, it just needs work from a programmatic perspective,” said Breakiron.

To move towards more successful programs, Garing shared some best practices for the DoD to consider. “One best practice is to let different components of the DoD do different aspects of JIE, and then offer them as a service to the entire department,” said Garing.

Garing also mentioned the importance of being sure that the DoD is building services that are actually needed, and that people want. “You can’t build something that people aren’t going to use,” he explained. “You have to build or offer what people are demanding. If you try to get too specific writing a RFP or plan, you can get groupthink that does not have a lot of utility. So the flexibility and agility they build in is really good, but always needs to offer the services that people want.”

With ViON’s help, organizations can deploy custom on-demand services, which will empower everyone at the DoD to have access to the right tools to meet complex missions.

Learn more about the JIE by accessing our guide.


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Photo credit, FlickR Creative Commons, USASOC News Service.

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