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DISA Business Forecast Not Rosy, But Full of Opportunities

shutterstock_188324945 (1)When the Defense Information Systems Agency held its annual forecast conference for government contractors, the agency sent out something of a mixed message.

On the one hand, speakers made it clear that they see nothing but ever-tightening budgets on the horizon. On the other, they outlined numerous contracting opportunities coming up over the next three years, all intended to aid the Defense Department’s push to use automation as a way of delivering greater capabilities for lower cost.

“The number and variety of threats [facing us] are increasing, but not budgets,” said Jack Wilmer, DISA’s Infrastructure Development Executive. So the challenge is “how to get to more automated defense.”

He said the agency needs to evolve its cyber security defenses from signature-based detection to protecting against Zero Day attacks.

“It’s a balancing act – how much investment should go to the 80% [of ordinary threats], how much to advanced threats?” Wilmer said.

He said there will be two major upcoming contracts along these lines. The first will be for a Big Data platform, one that can keep up with the pace of data ingest and able to support a wide range of analytics demands. The second opportunity will be for analytics. “We’re splitting these to maximize them,” Wilmer said.

In addition, there is a Request for Information now out that asks whether classified and unclassified cyber analytics should be done by one office or two, he said.

James Travis, division chief for DISA’s Operational Support System Infrastructure Directorate, continued the conversation on new acquisitions driving cost containment.

One challenge facing the agency is “how to provide for new stuff,” such as cloud and mobile, Travis said. “To save money, we need to find ways to [repurpose] what we already own.”

Another challenge is managing the technology drivers. Travis identified three. The first is convergence. “You’re building more intelligence into equipment,” he told the audience. “We have to consider their ability [to manage themselves]. We have smarter stuff with the integration built in.” Second is the push to eliminate redundancies across the enterprise; DoD doesn’t necessarily need to have multiple ways to address the same problem. Finally, Travis said, is the question of whether a technology can scale, both up and down; if it can’t, that is something DoD leadership should know.

He identified three major contract vehicles that will come up beginning in fiscal year 2017: IT Services Management (RFP planned for the third quarter of fiscal 2017); Transport/Compute Convergence – “If we have two tools with the same function, why?” – in the same time frame; and Engineering and Installation Services, a small business set-aside, about a year later.

Jason Martin, head of DISA’s computing services directorate, said the agency’s focus in his area will be on how to optimize across data centers – providing standards, then programming and implementing to those standards.

“We keep hearing [we’re] too expensive, too slow,” Martin said. The challenge is “how to evolve our infrastructure from siloed to converged,” a major undertaking given that his unit has 9,000 servers and more than 30 petabytes of data.

He said the directorate has completed 60% of its virtualization effort across all those servers. “These are big wins – we have saved the department millions of dollars.”

The tech driver challenges that DISA discussed: convergence, redundancy and scalability are common challenges across government and ones that Software AG Government Solutions is accustomed to addressing. Why not put our solutions to the test? Request a POC or download our free trials here.


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