DoD Hosts Army Cyber Innovation Challenge Kickoff in Silicon Valley

March 31, 2016 | BY Cheryl Pellerin , DOD News

The Defense Department’s innovation outpost in Silicon Valley is hosting an information meeting with U.S. Army and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency officials to highlight potential contracting opportunities.

The March 31 kickoff event will be held at the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx, facility in Mountain View, California, to connect Army officials with companies that may be able to offer innovative microcloud management systems.

DIUx officials say the Army plans to award prototype contracts over the next three months.

The Army has identified resourcing for the effort similar to that offered during its first innovation challenge, held in May. That challenge resulted in the purchase of four cutting-edge transportable high-performance microcloud computing systems, including two separate awards of $3 million and $1.5 million, DIUx officials said.

Combating Cyber Threats

Microclouds are the foundation of the Army's defensive cyberspace operations, the officials said. As the Army builds and fields these networks at home and with deployed forces, they added, the service must continue to fight cyber threats while providing networking connectivity, hardware and cloud virtualization.

The Army is expanding its distributed microcloud architecture, characterized by commonly abstracted and controlled hardware suites that form a large, heterogeneous, dynamic resource pool.

The architecture provides resources for the Army’s private cloud environment and enables the rapid and agile deployment of cybersecurity platforms in connected and disconnected or limited-bandwidth environments, the officials said.

Army Cyber Innovation Challenge

The Army needs an innovative approach to manage the cloud architecture, providing large-scale, dynamic perceptibility and control of network connectivity and access, resource allocation, and integrated management of commercial cloud assets, DIUx officials explained.

During the kickoff event, Army officials and speakers will provide technical details of the problem and seek industry feedback on how best to address the issue. Officials also will answer questions from interested companies and outline the three-month process to solicit, evaluate and award prototype contracts.

Kickoff Event

The keynote speaker is Steve Blank, a professor, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and author of, among other books, The Start-up Owner’s Manual. Blank will highlight the need for collaboration between DoD and tech companies.

Other speakers and topics include Ron Pontius of Army Cyber Command, who will discuss the Army and cyber technology; Frank Pound of DARPA, who will discuss technology and the future of cyber warfare; and Jack Dillon of Army Cyber Command on the microcloud management problem.

The event will include demonstrations of recent technologies, the officials said.

The DIU-x offices are at 230 R T Jones Road in Mountain View. Today’s industry day includes the program from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., and networking from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. PDT.

 (Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter @PellerinDoDNews)