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FCW : July 30, 2015
22 July 30, 2015 FCW.COM BY SEAN LYNGAAS A visit by the Defense Department’s top IT official to Silicon Valley has altered the software makeup of a key depart- mentwide IT security project. The forth- coming request for proposals for Joint Regional Security Stacks software will ask vendors to incorporate big-data ana- lytics capabilities that DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen observed firsthand in North- ern California in April. Specifically, the next iteration of the software known as the Joint Manage- ment System (JMS) should be able to harvest security insights from data that is not intuitively security-related, Halvorsen told FCW in an exclusive interview. “We’ll be able to ask industry to do... certain things that I think we would not have been able to ask them before the trip because we now see that it’s capa- ble,” he said. JRSS is a collection of servers, switches and software tools meant to give DOD network operators a clearer view of traffic. By sending that traffic to the cloud for analysis, the stacks can help operators quickly respond to network threats by, for example, open- ing certain ports or blocking a given IP address. In a recent speech in Baltimore, Halvorsen said that although he was satisfied with the hardware and com- mand and control of JRSS, he was con- cerned about the software component, and he hinted that his trip to Silicon Valley might have offered a remedy. Big data is apparently the remedy he had in mind. The Defense Information Systems Agency expects to issue a request for quotations, a precursor to an RFP, for the next version of the JMS software in late July or early August, DISA spokes- woman Alana Casanova said. Statistical modeling is another IT capability Halvorsen took note of while in Silicon Valley. The technol- ogy is evolving so that an increasing amount of data can be used to per- form simulations with increasing fidel- ity, he said. “If that type of combination of com- pute and intelligent tool analysis really does produce, it’s game-changing in more ways than I can describe,” he added. One potential DOD application for that sort of modeling is wargaming, where one could consider “political [and] policy factors at a much higher level because you would be using all of the available data that’s out there,” Halvorsen said. He met with a bevy of firms during his trip to Silicon Valley, from house- hold names such as Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle and Google to MarkLogic, a data- base builder whose website touts secure military messaging and field-based geo- spatial data capture. Halvorsen emphasized repeatedly that a meeting with a given firm was not an endorsement but simply an exchange of ideas. Chief investment officer Talk of a culture clash between how Silicon Valley and the Pentagon conduct business has been enshrined in Beltway lexicon for a reason: Startups balk at lengthy and often costly government procurement cycles and at the many compliance challenges that come with selling to the Pentagon. A cultural divide in investment and acquisition cycles was again on display during Halvorsen’s trip out West. Peeks at new tech convince the Pentagon’s CIO to ask for things once thought impossible JRSS Halvorsen’s Silicon Valley trip shakes up 0730fcw_022-023.indd 22 7/14/15 9:20 AM
July 15, 2015
August 15, 2015