Defense Collaboration Services DCS Web Conferencing Tool

Defense Collaboration Services DCS Web Conferencing Tool

Defense Collaboration Services DCS provides users worldwide web-enabled conferencing capabilities on both the Department of Defense’s nonsecure NIPRNet and Secret IPPRNet networks, including desktop/document sharing, white boarding, instant messaging text chat polling/voting capabilities.

Authorized DoD users who possess Common Access Cards on both NIPRNet and SIPRNet may gain access.


Defense Collaboration Services DCS is an enterprise tool used by Department of Defense (DoD) employees worldwide for secure web conferencing, instant messaging and chat capabilities. Utilizing open source software hosted on DISA milCloud cloud service, DCS can be reached by anyone with either a Common Access Card on nonsecure Internet Protocol Router Networks such as NIPRNet or Public Key Infrastructure hard token on Secret IP Router Networks such as SIPRNet.

Through DCS‘ integrated teleconferencing capability, meeting participants can access conferences at no additional cost, eliminating the need to schedule third-party phone bridges for unclassified meetings and working seamlessly across commercial, Defense Switched Network (DSN), and Enterprise Voice over Internet Protocol (EVoIP) telephone systems. Furthermore, its recording/playback capability will soon allow users to edit recordings for later review; a feature which will become available within classified environments later this year.

DCS also boasts an inbuilt chat client which provides DoD with persistent chat rooms and one-to-one chatting capabilities, document sharing features, web conferencing tool access from any Internet-enabled device and document storing capabilities. Furthermore, its mobile application enables users to communicate with colleagues through video or text chat capabilities.

Another significant change to DCS involves its switch from transmission control protocol to user datagram protocol, which will increase security and performance according to the DoD. Furthermore, user datagram protocol will allow voice integration which has not previously been available within DCS.

DCS will replace Defense Connect Online (DCO), which will be decommissioned in September. DCS will be accessible to all DoD employees with either a CAC or hard token on both NIPRNet and SIPRNet networks, with instant messaging and video conferencing provided through Microsoft Teams as part of Office 365 suite of services.

DISA is offering DCS Superuser Training to assist frequent DCS users with honing their skills. Sessions will take place several times over the coming months and all participants will receive a certificate upon completing the course. To register, either click on “superuser” in your DCS menu or call DISA Global Service Desk at 800-7775-3702.


Defense Department employees now have access to video teleconferencing on desktop computers thanks to Defense Collaboration Services DCS Web Conferencing tool’s new video teleconferencing capability.

DCS now goes beyond audio and instant messaging capabilities by enabling users to host meetings for up to 200 participants using video-conferencing links shared via email, social media or a Web site. The tool also features recording for later playback as well as white boarding and text chat features. DCS can be found worldwide to anyone possessing either a Common Access Card for unclassified networks (NIPRNet) or Secure Internet Protocol Router Network tokens on classified networks (SIPRNet).

Users on either network can collaborate to share PowerPoint presentations and documents, spreadsheets, photographs and other data such as spreadsheets or photos with ease. Sessions can also be recorded and closed-captioning for hearing impaired individuals is available – all while running on milCloud, Defense Information Systems Agency’s internal cloud service.

DCS will serve as a replacement for Defense Connect Online (DCO), which the government decided to discontinue when its licenses expire this summer. DISA officials and Adobe, the provider behind DCO, maintain that once DCO has gone away they don’t view themselves as competing solutions.

DISA is currently undertaking the task of offloading several DOD systems, such as the popular virtual meeting solution eConnect, to DCS and DCO ii software. For these new systems hosted on cloud infrastructure to function meaningfully within DoD networks they require security authorizations from DISA for proper implementation.

DCO ii is already approved to operate on unclassified networks, but will require security authorizations for use on classified systems like SIPRNet. Adobe says they plan to obtain those authorizations required under federal IT policy to protect military systems by way of FedRAMP or DoD’s recently introduced FedRAMP-plus arrangement. A single DCO ii enclave could potentially exist within each unit for secret-level communications; however, commands would have to sponsor and finance this effort themselves.

Instant Messaging

Defense Information Systems Agency DCS now hosts 18,000 daily users and offers instant messaging and teleconferencing capabilities to Department of Defense employees for free on both Nonclassified Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNet) and Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet). DCS supports secure person-to-person instant messaging with up to 250 participants as well as audio/video web conferencing, desktop sharing, meeting recording/playback. Access is granted using both Common Access Card tokens on NIPRNet and public key infrastructure hard tokens on SIPRNet so it’s globally accessible from anywhere with internet connectivity.

DCS also provides other apps on mobile devices to supplement its instant messaging and conferencing features, including file repository for Army Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center’s Safe Access File Exchange system (SAFE). This application enables uploading and downloading large files quickly as well as easy and secure file-sharing between collaborators as well as document storage to support collaborative work efforts.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people have turned to video conferencing to connect with loved ones and work remotely. Unfortunately, video-conferencing tools have also attracted hackers looking for vulnerabilities within computer software systems or hackers looking to gain entry by hacking into them and accessing confidential data or creating vulnerabilities – thus increasing risk exposure within military forces and further damaging reputation. If used illegally on Government Furnished Equipment (GFE), use of such collaboration tools can place them at greater risk than necessary.

The military is currently making upgrades to the Defense Communications Systems application, including revamped record and playback capability for unclassified meetings that will allow participants to view presentation slides and text chats. This version should become available by January 2016. This new platform should also have less downtime compared to its current counterpart which has caused camera freezes, recordings being delayed or failing for some users, camera freezes etc.

DISA announced that in the near future DCS will offer an infrastructure as a service solution that blends commercial off-the-shelf and DoD-developed technology to produce secure infrastructure in a milCloud data center, DISA added. The platform is intended to support multiple applications including virtual classrooms and workspaces as well as be utilized by military members collaborating with mission partners.

Document Sharing

Defense Information Systems Agency has issued a synopsis for Defense Collaboration Services DCS Engineering and Sustainment Support (621900239) on March 6 to solicit contractors for this program, which offers secure web conferencing, instant messaging and chat capabilities to military members.

DCS is built upon open-source software, meaning anyone wishing to utilize it can download it free of any license fees and use it. This cuts costs drastically – an important factor for the DOD which seeks to save money by retiring Defense Connect Online which cost $12 Million annually to run.

DISA plans to host its DCS tool on milCloud, an infrastructure-as-a-service environment managed by DISA and located within military data centers. This approach offers security, agility, and speed compared to hosting it from commercial off-the-shelf technology from international data centers.

According to its synopsis, DCS was developed for DoD employees looking to collaborate on projects, meet partners and share documents across department networks. Utilizing video teleconferencing technology and offering user visibility features like sharing of PowerPoint presentations, photographs and spreadsheets in different formats; additionally it features instant messaging capability as well as room-based teleconference capability.

DCS is accessible by all authorized DOD personnel. Individuals can register an account and begin using it shortly after receiving a Common Access Card token; meeting participants are required to have one to join conferences; however, DCS meeting moderators may enable guest access for coalition and mission partner users without CAC tokens so they may still participate.

Some early issues have surfaced with DCS system. For instance, some users are reporting camera freezes during web conferences on DCS; DISA has implemented a temporary fix in its unclassified environment and best practices can help mitigate this issue. Furthermore, recording and playback feature takes longer than anticipated to produce recordings from conferences; DISA will deploy an updated solution in January 2016.

Sam is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.