May 3, 2007 by jimstogdill
DISA Announces Surprise Acquisition at Annual Conference
In a bold and surprising move, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) used the occasion of its annual customer conference to announce the acquisition of Google’s Commercial Services (GCS) division. In a single stunning stroke, the agency added significant credibility to its claim to be the preeminent provider of remotely hosted services to the defense establishment.
In a joint statement DISA and Google called the transaction strategic and “in the nation’s and both parties mutual best interest.” DISA’s Lt. Gen. Croom was quoted during DISA’s accompanying press conference as saying “Our acquisition of Google Commercial Services represents a turning point in the agency’s transition to an agile, fast moving, and tactically relevant service provider. Commercial IT has been following in the consumer’s footsteps, and we are now better positioned to leverage the same trend.”
DISA appears to have seen in Google’s technology an opportunity to accelerate delivery of its Net Enabled Command and Control system (NECC). Under the terms of the deal DISA will obtain perpetual rights to the entire Google technology stack as of the date of the transaction for the delivery of search, mapping, mail, and personal productivity applications. DISA is further licensed to leverage the underlying technologies including the Google file system and its design for white box computing to support the delivery of NECC from DISA’s own data centers. DISA plans to continue to market the current GCS product suite to commercial businesses in order to maintain cost discipline, keep data center utilization high, and ensure continued technology advances are well funded and available to its defense customer base.
The deal is reported to include the entire staff of GCS though the final details of their conversion to Government Services ranks have not been released. DISA is purported to have been strongly motivated by the staffing aspects of the deal and believes that the external infusion of skills and culture will pay dividends throughout DISA’s business units, though initially the acquired unit will maintain a degree of autonomy as the DISA GCS division. In addition to maintaining and improving the purchased line of products, DISA is expected to deploy some of the new staff on NECC development.
Industry watchers were caught flat footed by Google’s participation in the transaction. No additional explanation was forthcoming from Google, but industry insiders speculate that the deal may have been initiated as one of the terms of a deal with the Department of Justice to deflect wholesale copyright violation troubles within its popular YouTube division.
Ok, obviously this is a farce. However, DISA, like many large organizations, is having its own struggles with cultural transformation, technology delivery, and cost control in an era of technological discontinuity within the DoD. It’s just kind of fun to think about how they might approach the problem if they were not constrained by the reality of being a government agency. Of course, the Google part is just silly, everyone knows that wholesale copyright violation is a civil matter and outside of DoJ’s jurisdiction. 😉