At last month’s Forecast to Industry event, IT leaders from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) shared their major priorities for development and acquisition for the next fiscal year and beyond. What was clear, regardless of technology area, is that DISA has embraced the next-generation of IT tools and perspectives that will enable the Department of Defense to meet its mission goals in an ever more complex world.
From releasing open source code for review to investment in mobility, DISA’s priorities are squarely tailored to fostering agility amongst end users and driving economies of scale for administrators. As outlined by Major General Sarah Zabel, USAF and Vice Director, DISA, expanding the Department of Defense’s mobility unclassified capabilities is a priority in FY 2017. Speaking to the details of this mobile capability expansion, Jacob Marcellus, Acting Mobility Portfolio Manager, shared that in 2017 DISA will be adding more than 45,000 mobile devices to its unclassified networks using commercially available platforms. In order to make optimal use of those mobile platforms DISA will also be looking to add over 300 vetted and approved apps to its mobile application store in FY2017.
DISA has shown great foresight in recognizing that mobile apps are critical for the Department of Defense (DOD) to drive greater mission effectiveness. However, with more personnel accessing mobile devices how does DISA ensure that it has mission-focused apps at the ready and is able to update them in a way that is conducive to the strict standards of security and reliability required by the DOD?
The DISA Mobile Application Store (MAS) is the foundation of the Department of Defense’s ability to go mobile and be secure. Only devices managed by DOD can access the MAS, which creates a robust foundation for security. A previous investment that DISA has made in Appian’s mobile BPM platform has enabled app development in a low-code environment, which means that developers can build apps quickly while optimizing functionality and minimizing transfer of errors between versions, while enabling the replication of app components to minimize cost and time to release. Business process management solutions that incorporate app platforms into the system allow agencies like DISA to build data and process workflows into the custom apps users can create. The potential for innovation that DISA has tapped into for developers to quickly create and deliver apps that support mission-critical needs and integrate with existing systems, including ERPs, CRMs, and other databases is unmatched in the federal government.
As federal agencies look towards delivering greater value, the ability to engage both internal constituents and citizen end users via mobile platforms will be critical. While it’s easy enough to fund and deploy devices, the vital, yet often overlooked, part of a mobility strategy is the ability to gather data, deliver services, and put those devices to work via apps. What DISA has shown, both through its original investment in MAS and low-code app development platforms, and now with its commitment to expand its program, is that this is a viable strategy for even the most security conscious federal agency.