Day Three of the Synergy Conference

This is the third and final post on some observations from the 2008 Synergy conference (co-hosted by Stratcom).

The day opened up with a great update on operational intelligence in the modern age, with Mr. John J Powers of the Defense Intelligence Operations Coordination Center (DIOCC) providing a first hand look at the DIOCC, its mission, and recent successes.   The question and answer period generated some great dialog and feedback and suggestions from some of the greats in the community, including Mr. Terry Casto and Ms. Lynn Schnur.

JJ's discussions were followed by a panel of CTO-types introduced by Ms. Nancy Wheeler of the GETA.  Panelists included Mr. Malcolm Hyson (CTO Microlink LLC), Dr. Alex Karp (CEO Palintir Technologies), Dr. John Triechler, CTO Applied Signal technology), Mr. Guljit Khurana (President and CEO, Centrifuge Systems) and me.

Our panel was followed by the highlight of the day, a presentation by Dr. Prescott Winter, CTO of NSA.  I capture some more detailed notes on his presentation below.

Dr. Winter was followed by CAPT Eva Scofield, the Director of Intelligence (J2) for JTF-GNO.  This is the position I held from Dec 1998 till 2002.  She did a great job of characterizing the threat.  I hope all were listening and I hope the world remains alert and focused on this growing menance.

Closing comments were provided by the Stratcom's Director of Intelligence (J2), Captain Jeffrey L. Canfield, USN.  Unfortunately, I had to miss that presentation to catch a flight. I imagine Jeffrey did his usual great job of both extracting the key points of an entire confernece and drawing conclusions we should all take away.  I'll have to get with him later to see if he can get me up to speed.

Notes from Dr. Winter's presentation:

Dr. Prescott Winter, CTO/CIO of NSA, provided an overview of the NSA IT story and the many changes to the way we do business.   He provided a very good, succinct vision and a compelling argument for continued change towards integration.  He is fully aware of the great progress that has been made to date and does not discount that. But he knows more needs to be done and is helping us all move forward.   We need to move more users into an integrated ops intel space where new information models can be used.  The SIE, Single Integrated Environment, for example, is a new model and new operating environment.

A key vision has been to integrate what users see with what intelligence knows.  This is an integrated ops/intel space that is serving the mission with an integrated picture that wraps the user.  He is moving towards this vision by engaging today's architecture and looking for gaps and addressing those, engaging with industry to know more about the future of technology and how they can address gaps, integrating the NSA investment programs (as you identify stacks of services you must have investment plans that appropriately resource and optimize them).  he is also engaging technologists from throughout the organization by working with PEOs and the AE of NSA.

Pres is working hard to move NSA from a net centric model to an info centric model.  He is also changing the access model from compartment based to attribute based.  On the issue of data  ownership, he is doing everthing he can to change the old model of data ownership to data stewardship.  This is a behavioral issue.  On the issue of SOA and Services, he is moving the entire stack of IT to a services model.

Pres is a champion of the ODNI's info sharing strategy and vision and is working hard to help execute and implement.  He is working hard to change attitudes and behaviors from need to know to need to provide.   He is working to engineer solutions that will help make data discoverable and available to every member of the selected community that needs that information.

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Bob Gourley

Partner at Cognitio Corp
Bob Gourley is a Co-founder and Partner at Cognitio and the publisher of Bob's background is as an all source intelligence analyst and an enterprise CTO. Find him on Twitter at @BobGourley
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About Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley is a Co-founder and Partner at Cognitio and the publisher of and Bob's background is as an all source intelligence analyst and an enterprise CTO. Find him on Twitter at @BobGourley


  1. COL David L. Ward says:

    Great wrap up of the conference and the high points. This information coupled with my notes made the trip report extremely easy to write. I agree with your comment on the fact that we seem to learning the same lessons over and over again. It reminds me of the first ten years of the BN S2s at the NTC. You could almost write the findings before the rotation. Eventually the culture changed, education and training took root and people retired. The OPS and Intel Interface should take the same path. Thanks again.

  2. Bob Gourley says:

    COL Ward,
    Thanks very much for your comments. In hind sight, I really enjoyed the conference, especially the people at the conference. There is another incredible conference coming in a few days, the INSA sponsored analytical transformation conference. Then after that there is the CIA and ODNI ICES sponsored enterprise 2.0 conference, and immediately after that there is the ODNI sponsored open source conference. All these look like great conferences with great topics and great speakers. But we could all spend all our time going to conferences and then what work would get done? Maybe one way to optimize the benefit of these conferences is to get more people blogging on their results.

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