The Defense Information Systems Agency conducted its annual Forecast to Industry event Nov. 6 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington.
The purpose of the event was to outline the agency’s way ahead for fiscal year 2018 and 2019, and to provide insight into opportunities for industry to partner with DISA to help the agency achieve its objective to better support the warfighter.
Fifteen of DISA’s senior leaders engaged a live and virtual audience of more than 1,700 industry partners by providing updates on numerous DISA programs and initiatives as well as highlighting contracting opportunities.
“We cannot do our business without industry,” said Army Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, director of DISA and commander of Joint Force Headquarters - Department of Defense Information Networks (JFHQ-DODIN).
Lynn said DoD is a center of innovation and emphasized partnerships with industry are key to supporting the warfighter.
“We want to support the warfighter and we will do this by bringing innovative ideas together,” he said.
Douglas Packard, DISA’s procurement services executive, agreed.
“It’s really profound, our impact, it’s what we do as a partnership,” he said. “The solutions sets are delivered by the folks in the audience.”
Innovation was a major theme throughout the day.
In the area of mobility, Lynn said he would like to see a universal transport — or hot spot — that will allow warfighters to connect into the network in a seamless, efficient, and secure manner.
“Mobility is the future. The goal is for customers to be just as effective while traveling and at home as they are at the office,” said Jacob Marcellus, DISA’s mobility portfolio manager.
Lynn’s vision for mobility includes moving away from the Common Access Card used for authentication today and toward assured identity using multi-factor authentication to develop a trust score by continuously evaluating biometric information including facial recognition, voice recognition, patterns of life, keystroke cadence, and speech patterns. This advance will provide seamless, secure access to both classified and unclassified networks on one mobile device, said Lynn, and will facilitate the delivery of data to the warfighter in a much more fluid fashion than is possible today.
“It might seem like science fiction, but all the pieces needed to bring this together are available now [and we need industry help to get us there],” he said.
Jessie Showers, DISA infrastructure executive, talked about how the DISA grand design for networking and infrastructure fits into the mobility vision.
“The goal is that DoD employees will plug into the network as a utility. It will work from anywhere in the world. We will accomplish this by utilizing and leveraging capabilities that are already present around the globe,” he said. “Between now and 2023 we will work on building this utility.” Showers said DISA already has the funding to enhance the network, eliminate legacy technologies, and to make the network more survivable.
He challenged the audience to bring him software defined networking (SDN) technology solutions that will better operationalize the network in the very near future.
“Come in and show us how we can use SDN in DoD operations,” Showers said. “It has to support the warfighter today.”
Lynn said technological advances in SDN and light fidelity, or Li-Fi, will improve capability for the warfighter. In the future, entire networks will run on LEDs, he said.
“It will be so fast,” said Lynn. “We have done it in the lab and the result was nine gigabytes to the desktop.”
Alfred Rivera, director of the Development and Business Center, emphasized his priority to improve the warfighter’s user experience.
“The goal for enterprise services is to reduce complexity for the end user,” he said. Systems and processes must be easy to buy, easy to consume, easy to use, and easy to defend.
Army Col. Brian Lyttle, program executive officer for Cyber, offered a challenge to the many vendors in the audience.
‘I’m looking for ways to decrease operating expenses and bring a better product to the warfighter,” he said. “I need vendors who can integrate their systems into the architecture. It’s all about interoperability. That is how we will get what we need to the warfighter in the most efficient and effective way.”
He also acknowledged DISA’s role in increasing interoperability.
“Interoperability has to be a part of source selection,” he said.
Sharon Jones, director of DISA’s Office of Small Business Programs, encouraged small businesses to help to solve the complex challenges DISA is trying to address, noting that innovation needed for the global warfighter can come from even the smallest companies.
“DISA will always use small business; small business moves America,” she said. “Small business creates disruption in the market place through innovation, diversity, gender, creativity, and cost efficiencies.”
All of the briefing slides from DISA’s 2017 Forecast to Industry are available for review on DISA.mil.