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News | Aug. 15, 2018

Striking a balance between compatibility and flexibility in the intelligence community

By Chasen Thoennes Defense Intelligence Agency

When first conceived in 2012, the Intelligence Community Desktop Environment, or IC DTE, aimed to reduce information integration deficiencies within the intelligence community and adapt agencies to cloud computing. IC DTE originally sought to establish a single, identical information technology network across the community. 


However, John Sherman, chief information officer for the intelligence community, stated that model is no longer appropriate and changes are already underway.


“We realized a one-size-fits-all solution was simply not going to work for all the IC agencies given the different architectures, security requirements and mission needs…and a well-managed federation should be applied in some situations,” Sherman explained as he addressed attendees Aug. 14, at the Defense Intelligence Agency 2018 Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference. 


To ensure compatibility throughout the different systems, the intelligence community established the Collaboration Reference Architecture, which sets standards on email, chat and other applications. Agencies are able to build capabilities to fit their needs as long as they comply with the CRA.


“Put simply, we’ve now learned that we can’t have the pendulum all the way over to the side of the dial where everyone is trying to employ exactly the same solution,” said Sherman. “Nor, can we let it go all the way back to the wild west with everyone deploying their own solutions that cannot be integrated with other parts of the IC enterprise.”


Sherman also noted improvements in network and cyber security programs, and threat sharing efforts within the U.S. government and with international partners.


DoDIIS is the largest IC conference that brings together experts from government, military, industry, and academia in order to tackle the information technology challenges and complexities impacting the mission user.