Kessel Run office (Airman Online Magazine/YouTube)

2019 Government Innovation Awards

Forging new paths in software development

It’s undeniable that the Air Force’s Kessel Run program — an expanding group of developers, designers and engineers — has changed the way the service and the Defense Department approach software development.

Kessel Run

Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, U.S. Air Force

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“They’re actually getting systems that work for them, and if not, they’re seeing fixes in rapid cycles that help build trust that the model actually works,” said Sam Stollar, vice president of intelligence and Air Force programs at Octo Consulting Group.

Kessel Run grew its ranks throughout 2019 and has combined platform-as-a-service technology, agile development methodologies and organizational changes to make an enviable and agenda-setting model for the rest of DOD.

By implementing its Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF), a common set of DevOps and application programming interface services, Kessel Run supported the quick onboarding of hundreds of full-stack engineers and provided real-time visibility into product teams while reducing the time it takes to achieve an authority to operate from months to days.

The foundry will also enable Kessel Run to abstract and manage cloud deployments and virtualized environments across multiple classification levels within a year, Stollar said.

“The Air Force’s investment in PCF as a single consistent path to production frees developers to focus on executing ‘balanced approach’ agile development,” he said. “This gives developers time to define a lean minimum viable product, engage with end users to refine features and ultimately build software versus configuring their unique pipelines or paths to deployment.”

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