By John M. Custer, Director, Federal Missions and Programs, EMC
The intelligence community (IC) runs on data – from information on cyber threats to details on emerging political unrest. National security is about connecting the dots to ensure the safety of millions of Americans, and the 17 agencies that make up the IC must be integrated in how they collect, store, and analyze this data. Putting fences around information greatly limits its potential, and the IC is making huge strides to break down silos and facilitate better information sharing.
By making information easily-sharable, agencies can collaborate more quickly, speeding up the process of making informed decisions. Say, for instance, that one department is storing a video of an individual involved in a crime, while another has a fraudulent passport naming a wanted suspect. By putting together these pieces of the puzzle, analysts can much more easily identify that person and move forward with the investigation.
The government recognizes this need for shared information and is tackling the challenge on the IT front via the Enhanced Solutions for the Information Technology Enterprise (E-SITE) initiative. The goal is to upgrade system architectures, project management processes and software development to reach new levels of information-sharing and collaboration.
But the E-SITE contract points to a larger shift that’s currently taking place across the IC. Broader and more integrated technology approaches are being pursued under the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (ICITE) strategy, which started in 2012 and aims to improve integration, information sharing, and information safeguarding. An overarching IT architecture is emerging that no one could have imagined 10 years ago, and holds incredible promise in terms of both mission effectiveness and cost savings. Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers recently said that the intelligence community has made huge strides in this area and that agencies are working much more closely together. He also noted that this integration will continue to be a top priority for both himself and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
This transformation has enormous potential for national security, as improved information-sharing means more pieces of the puzzle can connect to identify and thwart security threats. But looking more granularly, the ICITE strategy also allows for heterogeneous storage environments, and can fast-forward an agency’s path to the cloud by opening up the possibility of software-defined and virtualized storage.
The Defense Intelligence Agency is already releasing an architecture based on this framework, and EMC looks forward to helping agencies transition to a more open, collaborative environment that promotes information sharing.