DISA challenges industry to answer 'Wouldn’t it be cool if ...'

DISA Office of Strategic Communication and Public Affairs
May 5, 2022 

Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert J. Skinner provides the keynote address during the 2022 AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference
Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert J. Skinner provides the keynote address during the 2022 AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference in Baltimore, Maryland, April 26, 2022. The conference works as a staging area for military, industry and academia to discuss and plan how to achieve persistent engagement, persistent presence and innovation. (U.S. DOD photo by Thomas L. Burton, DISA/Released)


As the Defense Information Systems Agency protects our nation and defends the Department of Defense Information Network, DISA's director challenges industry and academia to answer the call to help the agency accelerate its mission with the velocity of action needed to win.

During the 2022 AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference April 26, in Baltimore, Maryland, Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert J. Skinner, DISA director and Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network commander, outlined his vision for how DISA can get to the future faster.

"Every great invention begins with someone asking the question, 'Wouldn't it be cool if,'" said Skinner. He posed this question and revealed 14 agency-generated, bold ideas to start a conversation between DISA and industry.

Wouldn’t it be cool if …

1. DISA could deploy cloud environments in hours?

2. The agency had a true single sign-on?

3. DISA had legacy and new development security operations, or DevSecOps, pipelines?

4. The agency had a mobile force with multi-level security?

5. Innovative solutions would scale?

6. The agency could optimize current capabilities?

7. Users could get their IT device, log-in, and there is no step 3?

8. The agency incorporated a seamless network transport?

9. Software licensing was consistent across DOD?

10. DISA could offer endpoint performance that didn’t detract from the user experience?

11. The agency’s risk management framework was operational and continuous?

12. Battlespace visualization was easy?

13. The agency could deliver a minimum viable product in months?

14. The agency mastered workforce empowerment?


Partnering to win – Trust, Velocity, Action

Partnerships are critical to answering the director’s call for ideas as that will allow DISA to improve existing capabilities and services, as the agency identifies new ways to stay ahead of the adversary.

One opportunity identified in the director’s list includes a rapid cloud-deployment capability, or the capacity to build a cloud environment through automation and decrease the standup time from months to hours. This is but one example of what the director means when he urges the agency to move at the velocity of actin to win.

In addition to bolstering the cloud, DISA is considering improved DevSecOps processes to best support legacy applications as the agency continues to implement new systems across the network.

"DevSecOps is pretty cool if you have a modern application and leverage a modern language and modern technology," Skinner said. "What about the legacy applications? How do we truly bring DevSecOps to a legacy environment?"

Industry support is necessary as the agency looks to develop new pipelines to integrate thousands of legacy applications across the network.

Improving battlespace visualization is another pressing enterprise, as DISA prioritizes command and control initiatives to support the joint warfighter. Additionally, the agency is looking for ways to automate a range of cyber capabilities to decrease non-essential tasks that pull experts away from the battlespace.

"Visualizing is knowing," Skinner said. "Do we have the right sensors in the right place? How are we leveraging that data to understand what that environment is? How are we validating that data to bring it into the decision-making cycle and understand risks?"

Moving forward, DISA seeks industry support to implement solutions at scale across the network, Skinner said. The agency manages more than 300 million Internet Protocol addresses, 3.3 million users and more than 15,000 different networks across the DOD. Industry must consider and account for this scalability due to the size and complexity of DISA’s mission.

Answering the call
To encourage answering the call to action for these and other “Wouldn’t it be cool if” ideas, DISA invites industry partners and academia to collaborate and experiment with new ideas and technologies in an unclassified setting DISAWERX, a physical facility which provides both an open lab environment and conferencing center to pursue novel and innovative solutions to DISA’s biggest technical challenges.

Industry partners and academia are also encouraged to demonstrate a product by scheduling a Technical Exchange Meeting; and visit the agency’s Industry Partners webpage to request a meeting or submit a question to DISA’s Corporate Connections team.

Small businesses should visit DISA’s Office of Small Business Programs webpage and follow DISA on social media: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to learn about upcoming small business events and information sessions.


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