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Military Commits to Unified Communications as a Service

April 20, 2015 by

When it comes to the military, immediacy is important, especially concerning communication. Troops need to be able to instantly connect with one another to discuss strategy and plan attacks. Without a formal way to stay in touch, there might not be any unity between forces. Unified capabilities would change that and increase contact.

Out With the Old, In With the New

The Defense Information Systems Agency has outgrown its original system, Defense Connect Online, and is making the move to cloud-based communications, according to C4ISR & Networks. Its hope is to have the new Defense Collaboration Services up and running all of DISA's communications, from video conferencing to document sharing, in the next few years.  Allowing both classified and unclassified communications, the new program will provide the security the military requires.

In a separate C4ISR & Networks article, Army CIO/G-6 Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell said the need for unified communications is about "having that capability for one-stop shopping for technology, whether voice or video, utilizing software at your fingertips."

DoD Goals Promoted by New System

The move will not only save DISA approximately $12 million annually, according to the first C4ISR & Networks article, but also align with the Department of Defense's Joint Information Environment. The JIE will help standardize a secure communication system within the department while increasing security against cyberattacks, the DoD explained on its website. To be able to do this, though, the DoD needs an inexpensive method that will allow all forms of communication - this is where Defense Collaboration Services comes in.

The goals of the Joint Information Environment are similar to those of DCS: increased communication, successful training, security, and productiveness. Implementing the new system into the already-in-progress JIE program would jumpstart unified capabilities in a cost-effective way.

Lines of Effort Established for UC Switch

A recent report from the Office of the Army CIO/G-6 outlined the plan for instituting mobile communications within not only the Army, but the entire military. Unified capabilities would increase communication and allow better strategizing for armed forces and their allies in varying locations. Real-time feeds would also enable immediate discussion between commands, opening up options for training, operations, and collaboration.

According to the report, constant contact is sparse; UCaaS would amend that, making communication more widely available and consistent, even when soldiers are in the field. Having unified capabilities in place would help increase productivity and security. It would hopefully be able to anticipate and block enemy intervention, as well.

While there is no set date for the program's implementation, a request for proposals from UC companies is expected by the end of 2016. Despite its slow start, the military hopes to gradually improve the current network's reach and upgrade its systems to be able to accommodate the new UC program.

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