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CHIPS Articles: DISA Strenthens DoDIN Survivability

DISA Strenthens DoDIN Survivability
By CHIPS Magazine - September 12, 2018
Operating and defending the DoD Information Network is a mission critical, full-time job, according to the Defense Information Systems Agency.

To ensure the nation’s warfighters have reliable and secure communication and information, information technology and cyber professionals monitor and secure the network from DISA Global Operations Command’s network operations watch floor.

DISA said it took a major step July 15 to advance the survivability and redundancy of global network operations by starting 24/7 Active-Active operations.

According to DISA, Active-Active means "always on," or continuously available operational and security capabilities, where an incident in a single location will not affect the ability of DISA Global Operations Command to continue to perform seamlessly in another location with zero downtime for operational users.

To achieve the goal of zero downtown, the DISA Global Operations Command, headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, established a second network operations watch floor at Hill AFB, Utah. The Hill AFB location is known as DISA Global West. Initial staffing includes 66 civilians, 23 military members and approximately 100 contractors.

The original watch floor at Scott AFB is now known as DISA Global East.

“In a world where our cyber adversaries are becoming more and more sophisticated in their abilities to infiltrate networks and interfere with services, Active-Active operations allows DISA Global to reduce continuity risks and make the Defense Information Systems Network and DISA services more agile and responsive,” said Laura Williams, Active-Active program manager.

The two geographically separated watch floors are equipped to execute the IT service management functions required for operating DISA and Defense Information Systems Network services. The new configuration is essential for DISA to support the warfighter and other mission partners, Williams said.

“It’s always a challenge when you have a geographically separated work force,” said Army Col. Lisa Whittaker, DISA Global commander. “But we are a tremendous team coming together for this effort. The teammates that work at DISA Global West are closely integrated with those at DISA Global East. They work in the same divisions, have the same leadership, and use the same tools, techniques, tactics, and procedures on a daily basis.”

In the event of a security incident, or other casualty, that degrades or completely cuts off connectivity at either Hill or Scott Air Force Bases, DISA Global will remain strong and able to operate and defend network and infrastructure services from the other location. Both DISA Global locations will perform standardized network operations, in part, by employing an Enterprise Virtual Watch Desk, which will provide organizations across the agency with a common operational picture of the network, giving them the ability to see and report what is taking place on the network at all times, according to DISA.

“Active-Active gives the agency a strategic advantage to further our warfighter’s success in defense of our nation and to increase the lethality of the DoD,” said Whittaker.

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