Creating an Effective IT Framework: Is More Collaboration Needed?

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. 

Although the Joint Information Environment (JIE) is not officially a program of record, the IT architecture will ultimately be deployed and put into practice by initiatives all across the DoD.

“The JIE is tremendously valuable if used, and in my mind long overdue,” said David Blankenhorn the vice president of engineering and chief cloud technologist at DLT Solutions, a value-added solutions provider for government and business customers alike. But in meeting the ultimate vision of a shared and converged IT infrastructure, the DoD faces challenges.

“Anytime you have stove-piped systems, it is always difficult to get collective buy-in,” said Blankenhorn. “From a top down DoD perspective, having something like the JIE is a no brainer, but having to translate the value down to the personnel out on specific missions or in the trenches, they may not be as concerned about the bigger picture. Their focus could be mission specific and accomplishing the task at hand.”

Another challenge faced by the DoD, said Blankenhorn, is the sheer complexity of DoD networks. “The [DoD] is the largest computing environment in the world that JIE is looking to address,” he explained. “There is a lot of inertia, one-offs and custom technology scattered all throughout the environment. So trying to bring that under a common architecture that can be secured, managed and maintained over time is not a trivial effort by any stretch of the imagination.”

Although these challenges exist, Blakenhorn says they’ll be worth overcoming to ultimately experience the core benefits of the JIE. “The primary benefit that I see from JIE is that we have the ability to securely get the right information to the right people, at the right time, on the right device in order to support the mission. That’s really what JIE is about,” said Blankenhorn.

Other benefits Blankenhorn says the JIE will offer include the standardization, interoperability of systems, improved security, and reduced time to purchase and deploy IT. DLT solutions is helping the federal government build awareness about JIE, and the impact that the framework will have in meeting critical missions.

“We can help promote the JIE message, and build a groundswell of support,” said Doug Martin the director of field sales for DLT Solutions. “So when we go out and talk to customers during our day-to-day support, we can give a different perspective. We can talk about the benefits we see across the street, or across the country, at another military base, or insights on a DOD installation, and what JIE enhancements have done at a particular shop and how they can benefit a specific agency.”

“The irony of the situation is that at DLT, we have spent a lot of time evangelizing across government about governments programs, and JIE is a good example of that. We actually spend a lot of time educating people in the public sector about these programs,” added Blankenhorn.

But to achieve deployment of the JIE framework, government and industry must work together. Fortunately, Blankenhorn and Martin believe there is already a healthy exchange of information between the DoD and industry, especially in terms of sharing IT roadmaps.

“The senior leadership of DoD has shown it wants to learn from industry about what the future looks like in 12-18 months for IT advancements,” said Martin. “I think what DoD can also do is to continue to share their requirements, to make sure the requirements map to each other. That way you can do a litmus test, and be sure industry and government are aligned.”

He added: “The key really is that it is going to be critical for DoD and industry to continue to collaborate, and I think the last thing that anyone wants is have the JIE stagnant as technology capabilities increase, or as mission requirements evolve. It would be great to see in five years, when JIE has been deployed, a dynamic architecture that can leverage the latest advancements in technology”

For continued success of the JIE framework, government and industry must continue to work collectively and collaborate. This way both parties will know that as technology advances that the JIE infrastructure will also be able to evolve to meet the needs and capabilities from a mission requirements and technology perspective.

Through collaboration between government and industry, DoD personnel can have the confidence they have an IT infrastructure able to meet the ultimate end state of JIE.


Learn more about the JIE by accessing our guide.


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Photo credit, FlickR Creative Commons, Expert Infantry.  

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