Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Enterprise Core Services for DoD

E-mail, keeping track of directories, calendars, collaboration and document management are the most demanding core applications of DoD. Such core services also include support of diverse desktops, laptops, smart phones and all mobile devices. These services also deliver global synchronization of files so that anyone can communicate from any place with everybody. The current fracturing of these services is not acceptable. It is incompatible, insufficiently secure and too expensive.

DISA has now taken on the task of providing DoD with a secure enterprise-wide capability that would migrate hundreds of existing core services into a cloud-based environment. The following policies would have to dictate the directions that DISA can be taking to achieve the stated objectives:

1. Avoid vendor lock-in by adopting open source software that allows vendor-independent management of applications.
2. Deliver basic core services as a universal Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) that hosts open source applications.
3. Operate SaaS for hosting by competing firms. The SaaS servers are virtualized for relocation of capacity and for fail-over.
4. Avoid payment of up-front enterprise software licenses. Avoid annual fees for application maintenance. Instead pay only for actual use.
5. Migrate to Linux. Software for managing basic core service should be identical to every user.
6. Own the application software for all core services.
7. Make core services available on-line and off-line. Off-line transactions should be synchronized after any device re-connects.
8. Control the configuration of all core services.
9. Include automatic backup and fail-over of cloud services.
10. Make a standard core desktop available to every DoD employee.
11. Offer desktop aggregation services to allow secure communication to and from Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, etc. POP or IMAP accounts.
12. Follow identical rules for all desktops, such as drag and drop actions as well as standard rules for composing, deleting, editing and replying.
13. Deliver core applications as a transaction service. Transactions should be priced as if they would originate from a regulated utility.
14. Make core services capable of relocation between sites and vendors. Open source application programming interfaces (API) should be used.
15. Design the core services to meet the capacity needs of of military, civilian, reserves and contract personnel.
16. Allow military Services and Agencies to add features to the basic core services but only if open source APIs are used.
17. Contract with only a limited number of SaaS providers. Contracts should be of short-term duration.
18. Engage only contractors who also offer comparable commercial grade services.
19. Allow add-ons to core services but only under central configuration controls.
20. Manage access authorization and provision of secure signatures to core services from automated Network Control Center (NCC).
21. Staff the NCCs only by military and civilian employees.
22. Place no limits on retention of defragmented e-mail storage.
23. Make core service available in at least ten languages.
24. Include automatic location of users physical locations for security assurance.
25. Provide migration tools to standard core desktop from Exchange, Lotus Domino and Novel GroupWise.
26. Offer a standard core desktop to provide a uniform user interface regardless of the information technology in place.
27. Offer PC-over-IP thin client services to all locations, including of smart phones.
28. Install uniform desktop icons as the standard user interface for all commands and applications.
29. Extend from a central location the provisioning and managing of applications and data.
30. Form a DoD controlled enterprise technical community for the sharing information about technical innovation, quality improvement and enhancement of core services.

SUMMARY
A gradual migration of “commodity” applications, such as e-mail to cloud computing offers advantages to DoD in cost, security, reliability and interoperability. The current fracturing of “commodity” applications into thousands of incompatible enclaves calls for the creation of a SaaS environment that will have the capacity to support all DoD operations.

With the task of organizing a DoD-wide enterprise core service, there is no reason why DISA should not be able to deliver cloud environment that meets the criteria as defined above.

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