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 promises to create a consolidated IT infrastructure across the DoD, helping to streamline data, provide access to computing resources, reduce costs, and improve the ability of DoD personnel to arrive at better, more informed decisions.
“JIE is similar to a company merger or acquisition, and those are never simple,” said Chris LaPoint the vice president of product management at SolarWinds. “The challenges are going to be similar with JIE – having to merge the systems and processes together for differing organizations and systems. With that comes contention around which groups infrastructures, applications and processes should be chosen to roll out.”
Since the program is not officially on record, DoD leadership must continue to express the value of JIE, and encourage full support of the framework. “JIE has to come from all the key stakeholders and then to have a vested interest in making it happen, so implementation has to come from existing budgets. So finding the resources to make it happen and prioritizing that will be another major challenge,” said LaPoint.
LaPoint also identified that although obstacles exist, there are nevertheless massive benefits from the system – one of them being that the military will now be able to take a holistic view around security.
“Given the increase of cybersecurity threats both internal and external, having a common set of technology and process is really going to be helpful,” LaPoint said. “There are a number of other benefits that have been called out by the key stakeholders and drivers of JIE, including things like improved network performance, cost savings with consolidation, and time savings. Once they are able to reach consensus and drive towards a consolidated infrastructure, I think it will save a lot of money around training and ongoing maintenance of the infrastructure.”
“You are not talking about everyone having their own flavor of monitoring tools or own security tools, so you will hopefully be able to have a set of best practices that will be shared across all the participants in JIE,” LaPoint added.
Some of those best practices are very similar to any kind of IT deployment, LaPoint added. “You can take a pragmatic approach here and look at the steps like you would take to any system deployment as it relates to IT management. That starts with assessing your environment and taking an inventory of what’s out there, and then mapping that to the systems that you’re trying to deploy,” said LaPoint.
SolarWind’s first focus for their clients has always been making their services fast, easy and affordable. The same is true in the manner in which they are supporting JIE deployment.
“We have been focused on selling and providing IT tools to practitioners and end users, the people who ultimately have to use the tools, so they need to be able to quickly get the system up and running and easy to use,” said LaPoint. “Employees shouldn’t need extensive training and professional services. Solutions should then be affordable, especially with an initiative like JIE, which does not have specific funding allocated.”
“Continuous monitoring has really been one of the key discussions we have been having with our federal customers for at least the last two years,” LaPoint added. “One key is being able to combine IT operations with information security.”
“When you look at log management and log consolidation, that’s an area where IT operations has a number of use cases of using log data to trouble shoot performance and availability issues,” said LaPoint.
This log data can also be used to help solve security issues within the environment, so it makes sense for organizations to leverage the same tools.
“We’ve had a lot of success in getting the agencies to adopt that approach, and as you look at a continuous monitoring initiative, this is one area where IT operations for a long time have been gathering network information, so they can back up the network and revert to the last known good configuration if there are issues,” said LaPoint.
With the help of SolarWinds, the DoD can accelerate adoption of the JIE framework, and help agencies streamline data to better protect their networks.
Learn more about the JIE by accessing our guide.
Photo from the FlickR Creative Commons, Expert Infantry.