Navy Seeking Data Management Capabilities

The Defense Department plans within six months to establish a laboratory dedicated to artificial intelligence, which Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said is the key to saving billions of dollars by streamlining the Pentagon’s business and computing systems.

Navy officials are looking for new information technology (IT) capabilities to to make their data more manageable for warfighters and improve the mobility and security of system applications, according to the service’s lead cyber security official.

Rear Adm. Danelle Barrett told attendees at an April 20 AFCEA IT conference she is looking for industry data standardization solutions and help with the Navy’s new “Compile to Combat - 24 Hours” initiative to grow its number of user-friendly web-enabled services.

“We’re going for that kind of architecture where we’re decomposing those big, monolithic applications to get to that information environment that we need operationally,” Barrett said during a panel on cyber operations.

Barrett said she is leading an effort to break down the Navy’s large legacy application into more app-like web services to drive more efficient data management.

The smaller capabilities reduce the attack surface and use less varied software with more baked-in security protocols, according to Barrett.

To meet the goal, Navy leadership is implementing “Compile to Combat - Hours,” which requires testing of the end-to-end architecture for micro web services across all functions to ensure the repeatable data processes function properly.

The move to mobile system application is one of Barrett’s four IT modernization goals, which also include improving data tagging, embracing commercial cloud technologies and building in secure WiFi capabilities.

“Those four key tenants have pieces in them that we need your help with in many ways,” Barrett told the crowd of industry attendees.

For data standardization, Barrett wants new machine learning capabilities to automate tagging rather than having service members spend time manually sorting through mass amounts of information.

Barrett is also seeking industry help on moving to efficient XML practices, which would allow data to be compressed and transferred over the Navy’s satellite pipes.

“Tools that get us to that level, that’s what I’m interested in,” Barrett said.

For cloud capabilities, the Navy is looking to adopt technologies directly from commercial vendors rather than trying to recreate these tools for specific needs.

“We’re developing this environment in the commercial cloud using commercially developed tools. We’re not trying to do this in a way that is recreating what’s out there. We’re leveraging tools in the commercial cloud keeping it in the same development environment so we can go out quickly, and go do that automated functional testing,” Barrett said.

Barrett discussed the Navy’s push for secure WiFi capabilities to enable warfighters to more effectively move large amounts of data around ships.

“Things that we need to look at are, for example, WiFi as opposed to wired ethernet cables all over the ship. If I can use fluorescent lighting on the ship to give me gigabytes of data as I’m moving around the ship in a more secure way, that’s a win for me,” Barrett said.

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