enterprise network

Army gears up for net modernization

The Army is pushing ahead on network system modernization with a new cloud program office, a series of cloud pathfinder and enterprise-IT-as-a-service pilots and a new data strategy, according to its CIO.

Within the next 90 days the Army will stand up a program office so it can leverage the general and fit-for-purpose cloud capabilities expected from the Defense Department's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud platform, CIO Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford said at the Association of the Army's March 5 breakfast event.

At least five cloud pathfinder efforts will be launched this year focused on tactical intelligence data, financial management applications, global force integration systems, logistics and maintenance and the tactical service and infrastructure.

Crawford said the idea is to start with small efforts rather than a long-term plan to ensure sustained success in a cloud migration and environment.

"A win for the Army 24 months from now is that we've grown the capacity, whether its contract writing or other areas to institutionally learn how to do this," he said. "And then we will be able to get to scale, and then we will be able to get to speed."

The Army also plans to put out a revised data strategy in the next 90 days, led by Tom Sasala, Army chief data officer and director of the Army Architecture Integration Center.

Enterprise-IT-as-a-service

Army officials first teased moving to enterprise-IT-as-a-service in February, and Crawford confirmed with a detailed preview of what's to come.

The Army's foray into enterprise-IT-as-a-service will begin with three pilots in 2019, starting with Army Futures Command's headquarters in Austin, Texas. Crawford said six to eight pilots will be launched in 2020 at significant readiness-central post camps and stations.

Crawford outlined three guiding principles: delivering IT at a commercial standard or better, modernizing faster by scaling industry best practices across the service and improving defense of Army networks and data. 

The impetus behind the strategic shift is that to meet current and future warfighting needs, the Army must advance enterprise network modernization, which would take until well after 2030 at the current pace, he said.

That's because approximately 70 percent of the Army's network infrastructure is at or near end of life and upgrades are made in sporadic and incremental spurts across 13 capability areas.

"This year, we might show up and touch your SIPR infrastructure. Next year, we might show up and touch your NIPR, the following year, we might show up and touch the five regional hub nodes," Crawford said.

That upgrade strategy will also change as the Army moves away from an incremental approach to a prioritized one, he said. That means instead of updating infrastructure at all 288 post camps and stations, about 50 of the most important readiness platforms would get the attention.

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at lwilliams@fcw.com, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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