WASHINGTON, April 25, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The next generation of U.S. military information systems will be a product of the private sector if the Defense Information Systems Agency's (DISA's) plans come to fruition. The agency already is relying on industry for key services and this partnership will grow in the coming years. These insights were among many DISA leaders shared at the AFCEA International Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium held April 20-22.
Driving this cooperation are some harsh realities. Cyber defense teams find themselves defending against a wider range of adversaries whose malevolent abilities are constantly changing. Mobile communication capabilities are emerging from the consumer market faster than the military can develop them for its own use. In addition, commercial services are replacing military equivalents as tight budgets squeeze defense organizations out of their traditional business models.
DISA's director, Gen. Alan R. Lynn, USA, focused on industry's expanded role in future agency activities. "We want the technology industry to partner with us to develop the next generation of military [information technology] services," Gen. Lynn stated.
Addressing hundreds of industry representatives at the symposium, Gen. Lynn cited network anomaly detection as one business opportunity. "If you have something that allows us to see anomalies better, we'll plug it into our systems," he said. That is a near-term need; for the mid term, DISA will need software-defined networks, he added.
Above all, security measures reign supreme. "If you have novel ideas of how to do encryption, we're all ears," the general said. DISA's efforts to build out the network, which are essential with the looming Internet of Things, will rely on the assured identity and security piece, he allowed.
During a pre-conference presentation titled "DISA 102," Tony Montemarano, executive deputy director, DISA, shared his opinion about the growing opportunities for industry. "There's less and less development going on in the department; we have less and less latitude. We need to rely on commercial products, we no longer are in the build-it-from-scratch mode."
DISA officials recognize that taking full advantage of what industry has to offer requires changes to its procurement processes. They agreed that a new partnership paradigm would be absolutely necessary if both are to succeed in speeding innovative technologies into the U.S. military.
Terry Halvorsen, U.S. Defense Department CIO, explained that the solution to fixing the current disconnect is about more than technology. "Now it's time to have a conversation about culture change—cyber culture, tech culture," he emphasized.
"The issue is how we in government look at industry and how industry looks at government. The partnership where we understand what industry is doing and industry understands government is a win-win," Halvorsen stated. Government needs to listen to industry more, he allowed, and industry must be dedicated to working in new directions.
Additional coverage of the Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium including video and audio recordings is available online.
AFCEA International, established in 1946, is a non-profit non-lobbying membership association serving the military, government, industry and academia. Join online.