Jerry DotsonApril 02, 2019

Transforming Digital Communications in the Department of Defense

The Department of Defense (DOD) is a $639 billion global enterprise made up of many organizations that vary in size and mission requirements. To maintain readiness, the U.S. military requires modern communications environments to connect joint and coalition forces, as well as support internal organizations and service providers for effective collaboration. Whether it’s a need for sharing real-time intel on the battlefield, managing logistics for feeding thousands of troops in the field, or discharging patients from a military hospital, modern Unified Communications (UC) plays an essential part in helping the DOD meet its mission.

Bridging the Communication Gap

The DOD’s Military Health System (MHS), which employs more than 137,000 in 65 hospitals and 412 clinics around the world, can be seen as a microcosm of the entire DOD. MHS facilities can be found in major metropolitan areas, rural communities, and even war zones. While no two are the same and each has its own unique challenges, they must all achieve a similar goal: provide healthcare services for 9.4 million active duty and retired military personnel and their families. To provide these essential services, MHS turned to a cloud-based Unified-Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) platform to achieve their mission.

Medical providers inside MHS must be able to seamlessly communicate and collaborate with one another no matter their location. To offer the best healthcare services possible to patients, medical providers need to consult with other doctors and specialists to offer a personalized patient care journey. UCaaS provides a seamless and streamlined communication platform that can connect medical providers and patients in an effective manner, while meeting government privacy mandates.

UCaaS provides a user-friendly experience that will be uniform from office to office. Since it is based in the cloud, it does not require system upgrades that can cause a drop in performance across multiple sites. It can be easily scaled up or down as needed and can typically be installed quickly and easily while providing a near-limitless selection of services.

MHS uses UCaaS to connect its healthcare professionals with patients to deliver better experiences and outcomes, whether located in a remote location or in a metropolitan area. The modern digital communication system also improves coordination between agency resources and improves clinical and operational efficiencies, while boosting data security.

Why the DOD Should Move UC to the Cloud

No matter the location, time or device, the cloud can help the DOD increase warfighter readiness through enhanced collaboration capabilities that provide leaders with the ability to strategize through real-time access to mission-critical intelligence. Other DOD agencies facing the same communication challenges as MHS should consider the following benefits of moving UC to the cloud:

Increased productivity. Digital communications can enable DOD employees to be reachable from anywhere in the world via multiple devices and platforms, also providing central access to important files and documents. Processes can be streamlined and collaboration enhanced, while Cloud Service Providers (CSP) can save the DOD time and resources by maintaining the agency’s IT infrastructure.

Agile. Digital communications can integrate with legacy and standards-based technologies. This allows agencies to move to capabilities like UCaaS at their own pace, and choose their preference between a private, commercial or hybrid approach to telecom cloud services.

Scalable. IT departments can scale services as needed and only pay for what is used.

Fast. Digital communications can be implemented quickly, eliminating the need for long procurement and certification processes while providing a near-limitless selection of services.

Decreased costs. The DOD can reduce capital expenses like the need for building facilities; hardware and software expenditures; and overall operational expenses such as maintenance and administration costs. Agencies pay for only the services they need, scaling up or down on-demand.

Meets federal mandates. FedRAMP authorizes digital communications systems that agencies can implement with confidence. FedRAMP ensures that agencies can obtain cost-effective and capable information security, agile IT and mobile functionality, while reducing risk management costs.

Provides security. Modernizing communications provides an effective, state-of-the art network that is secure and manageable from end-to-end.

Improved services. Digital communications systems can be constantly updated with new services and features, ensuring that they are always on the leading-edge of innovation.

The Path Forward

Modern digital communications are critical to maintaining military readiness.  The DOD’s enormous size and scope make communications incredibly challenging.  In an increasingly complex global security environment, the DOD needs to invest in UC modernization to take advantage of advances in cloud computing and mobility. Aging communications systems need to be replaced with agile technology that can enhance warfighting capabilities and improve operational efficiencies. Defense leaders clearly understand how technology modernization can improve military agility – the goal now must be to continue to push for modern communications technologies across the enterprise to remain the world’s preeminent fighting force.

For more information on what modern communications environments can do for your agency, read our Guide to Transforming Digital Communications in the DOD.


Jerry Dotson

Jerry Dotson is the Vice President for Avaya Public Sector. Dotson oversees the design and implementation of communication services to support the various operations of DoD, Civilian, Intel, and SLED  customers.

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