DISA Rolls Out Defense Department Online Collaboration Tool
DISA Rolls Out Defense
Department Online Collaboration Tool
By Cheryl Pellerin, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
D.C. – (DoD
News) – February 6, 2015 – The Defense Information Systems Agency is
rolling out a new online collaboration tool that offers Defense Department
employees anywhere in the world secure web conferencing and secure instant
messaging and chat capabilities.
This screen shot shows the Defense Information Systems
Agency’s new online collaboration tool, which offers Defense Department
employees anywhere in the world secure Web conferencing, as well as secure
instant messaging and chat capabilities. DISA photo illustration.
The new open-source-based capability, called Defense
Collaboration Services, or DCS, is available to anyone worldwide with a common
access card, or CAC, on the unclassified NIPRNet, or to anyone with a SIPRnet
token on the classified network, Karl Kurz, DISA program manager for DCS, told
DoD News during a recent interview.
NIPRNet is the Sensitive but Unclassified Internet Protocol
Router Network, and SIPRNet means Secret Internet protocol router network, and
both are DoD networks.
“Anyone who has either one of those [authorized network
accesses] is authorized to create an account on DCS and then can hold meetings
using this service,” Kurz said. “Defense Collaboration Services is in the
process of rolling out to the department.”
Defense Collaboration Services
“We initially released a tech preview to the entire
department for testing on Oct. 1,” Kurz added, “and then as we matured the
service, we reached initial operational capability in mid-December.”
At that point, the computer scientist said, DISA began
transitioning internal collaboration sessions and processes from the predecessor
system, Defense Connect Online, to DCS.
DISA worked with U.S. Cyber Command, which released a message
in January directing the configuration of local networks across the department,
Kurz said, “so that by the end of February, the entire department will have the
ability to reach DCS.”
Many DoD organizations already have configured their local
networks and completed system testing, he noted.
Integrating Into the DoD Environment
Describing what it means that DCS is based on open-source software, Kurz
explained that such software is available without licensing costs to anyone who
wants to use it.
“Our configuration of it is unique to us, [because] we
integrate the open-source software into the DoD environment,” he said. “So now
it inherits all the secure-hosting-environment attributes that our data centers
provide while maintaining the easy-to-use interfaces that the software came with.”
What DCS offers employees is an easy and secure way to
exchange information with co-workers through secure Web conferencing and secure
instant messaging and chat, Kurz said.
Through DCS web conferencing, users can communicate securely
using voice and video and have the ability to share documents, PowerPoint slides,
photographs and spreadsheets in different formats.
Secure Instant Messaging
DCS instant messaging allows secure person-to-person instant
text messaging and room-based chat for multiple users.
“It’s very secure, using the latest industry standards and
hosted within secure DISA data centers,” Kurz said. “We actually reside on
milCloud, the DoD hosting environment that is secure and very flexible.”
A cloud-services portfolio managed by DISA, milCloud offers
an integrated suite of capabilities that can facilitate the development,
deployment and maintenance of secure DoD applications, according to the DISA
website. It leverages commercial off-the-shelf and government-developed
technology to produce DoD-tailored cloud services.
Kurz said DISA is committed to providing DCS under a set of
requirements it receives from the Joint Staff in coordination with other mission
partners throughout the Defense Department.
Efficiencies and Cost Savings
DCS is integrated with other DoD enterprise services, and
Kurz said this delivers efficiencies and cost savings along with secure
communication services across the department.
DCS integrates, for example, with the DoD public key
infrastructure, the framework that integrates digital certificates, public-key
cryptography, and certification authorities into a DoD-wide CAC-based network
By leveraging the DoD Application Services Directory, DCS
eliminates the need for users to manage another account. Within hours of
receiving a CAC, users are able to start collaborating via DCS. Additionally,
DCS also leverages milCloud to provide secure Infrastructure as a Service, known
as IaaS, in a military data center.
Kurz said milCloud has a significantly lower cost of
ownership to the customer because of the ability to host multiple applications
on multiple virtual servers. “So they're able to spread that load out and then
pass the savings on to me,” he added.
“Using milCloud also allows me to take advantage of
milCloud's highly secure environment, and to scale DCS as required,” Kurz said,
“because I'm able to stand up a server very quickly, as compared to standard
“As these things scale and we become a common consumer of a
lot of these enterprise services,” he continued, “the cost to me as a program
manager, and in the end, the taxpayer, is dramatically lower than if I had to
create,[manage and maintain] each of those myself.”
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)
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