Shared IT Architecture Leads to Cost Savings
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2013 A new architecture-sharing and modernization agreement among the Air Force, the Army and the Defense Information Systems Agency will increase bandwidth and network security and avoid more than $1 billion in future costs.
“As [the Defense Department] continues to move aggressively towards [the Joint Information Environment], this partnership is an important step forward,” said Teresa M. Takai, DOD’s chief information officer.
Due to force structure changes, the Army was left with excess information technology capacity, said Richard Breakiron, network capacity domain manager for the Army’s chief information office. At the same time, the Air Force was seeking to modernize its IT architecture to meet the requirements of the future joint information environment.
By partnering and taking advantage of the Army’s upgrade to faster multiprotocol label switching routers and regional security stacks, the Air Force was able to identify about $1.2 billion in cost avoidance. The Army expects to reduce its IT budget by $785 million between fiscal years 2015 and 2019 by consolidating hundreds of network security stacks into 15 joint regional security stacks, which the Air Force will also use.
“It’s great to have strong partners as we move toward JIE,” said Gen. William L. Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander. “I especially appreciate the tremendous spirit of cooperation that has emerged between the Army, Air Force, and DISA teams.”
MPLS routers are an industry-standard technology for speeding and managing network traffic flow. The upgraded routers will increase the backbone bandwidth to 100 gigabits per second, said Mike Krieger, the Army’s deputy chief information officer. At Army installations, network speeds will rise to 10 gigabits per second, he said. To put that in perspective, Fort Hood, Texas, currently operates at 650 megabits per second, Krieger said.
Regional security stacks are designed to improve command and control and situational awareness and are essential to enabling a single security architecture in the joint information environment, said Krieger. The move will tremendously increase the network security posture and reduce costs, he added.
“More and more, we’re saying that some of the service-delivery capability can be managed at the enterprise level, greatly improving efficiency, effectiveness and security,” Breakiron said. But, he noted, to perform these enterprise functions off of the local installation, the IT backbone must be much more robust, because users are relying on it for much more service capability.
The new, larger-capacity routers will help the Air Force and Army converge their enterprise network backbones and gain cost savings in other areas, he said.
"As we do our investment in MPLS, it now allows us to do not only [Voice over Internet Protocol], it allows us to do unified capabilities and it allows us to put much more of this capability up at the enterprise level,” said Brig Gen Kevin Wooton, Air Force Space Command director of communication.
Together, MPLS routers and the regional security stack construct improve performance and security, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr., DISA director.
"It creates a network that is fundamentally more defensible and more efficient," Hawkins said. He added that the move is a major step in building the Joint Information Environment architecture.
The Army and DISA plan to implement the joint MPLS transport cloud and JRSS consolidation in fiscal years 2013 and 2014 to support operations in Southwest Asia and the continental United States.
The Air Force and the Army will have access to data from JRSSs that are owned and operated by DISA as a joint capability. Army and Air Force cyber components will continue to execute cyber defense on their networks.
“As we modernize the DOD network, the Army is committed to a joint solution that helps achieve the joint information environment,” said Lt. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence, the Army’s chief information officer.