Informed DecisionsBy Bob Violino Print
Government agencies turn to virtualization, cloud services and other IT initiatives to run more cost-effective operations.
IT initiatives are also creating new efficiencies at the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), a combat support agency that provides network, computing infrastructure and enterprise services to support information sharing and decision making among U.S. military forces.
To that end, DISA has developed the National Senior Leadership Decision Support Service (NSLDSS), a secure, Web-based thin-client system that provides senior leaders in the DoD with rapid access to, and visualization of, data. The tool—JackBe Presto, a mashup service for composing services and aggregating data—allows users to more easily collaborate and make informed decisions related to a variety of missions and events, says Carlos Vera, advanced concepts engineering chief at DISA.
The system includes open-source service infrastructure implementations, such the Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC) service. It leverages existing DoD services, such Net-Centric Enterprise Services’ (NCES) messaging and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s mapping services.
The NSLDSS services run on virtual machines with a Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system. They are load-balanced between several Defense Enterprise Computing Centers (DECCs) to ensure the constant availability of services.
DISA deployed the system to meet the growing need for rapid access, visualization and mashup of data required for operational decisions. “The Defense Department needed a way to make sense of this data in supporting senior decision-makers during events of national significance,” Vera says. “DoD senior leadership required a dynamic situational awareness solution. This [system] can dynamically aggregate data into a user-defined operational picture of an event to be shared with operations centers.”
NSLDSS can now deliver real-time information, “resulting in
improved military response times, improved global situational awareness and
decision quality, and enhanced operational effectiveness,” Vera says. In addition,
the virtualization of these services has allowed DISA to quickly deploy up-dates,
without interruption of service, and provide greater availability times, as
well as the ability to more easily
monitor services to meet end-user needs.
Pursuit of Value
Federal agencies will continue striving to meet user needs while keeping IT costs under control. Di Maio of Gartner expects to see a “more mature approach” toward the adoption of cloud computing, driven less by the need to comply with federal mandates and more by the pursuit of value and reduction in the cost of IT service delivery.
“There will be greater focus on information management and social network analysis to extract value from information in order to better close the productivity gap, as well as greater focus on collaboration across agencies and with external stakeholders as a way to find more effective solutions to problems under significant resource constraints,” Di Maio says.
There will also be much more attention paid to the use of open data. So far, that is used mostly to comply with the open government directive across agencies, as well as on the use of social media, both externally and internally, Di Maio adds.
“The adoption of consumer technology—such as end-user devices, some mobile apps and social media platforms—will increase to more effectively support teleworking, but also to empower employees and encourage them to become active participants in the innovation process that is required to ensure government sustainability,” Di Maio concludes.
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