Army issues new policy to gain better control over enterprise apps

Thursday - 6/26/2014, 7:57am EDT

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The Army is locking down how many and the types of enterprise applications service members and civilians can use on its network.

The undersecretary of the Army, Brad Carson, signed a policy memo June 9, requiring all enterprise applications be modernized, virtualized and migrated to an approved data center.

"Our goal is to get enterprise applications into Defense Department facilities no later than the end of fiscal year 2018. We are applying lessons learned by tracking data center closures to track application rationalization," said Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell, the Army's chief information officer/G6. "To date, we have closed about 235 data centers and 107 percent of this fiscal year's goal. We estimate cost savings of over $30 million."

Ferrell said the Army identified more than 10,000 applications that live in their data centers today. He said the service has retired about 750 of them as of early May. The long term goal is to continue application rationalization through that 2018 deadline, with a stretch goal of stopping the support of and removing from the network as many as 5,000.

"It would be a huge cost savings to define the baseline applications that the Army needs to use and will use, and move them into the cloud," Ferrell said. "Then as you upgrade them annually, it will be a one-time cost versus trying to figure out who needs to do what annually."

The application rationalization policy is one piece to a broader set of efficiency and effectiveness initiatives.

Ferrell, who replaced Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence as the Army CIO/G6 in Jan. 6, said he is building on the ongoing modernization work that has been the focus over the last few years.

Ferrell said he has five priorities:

  • Optimizing and improving the signal capabilities of the force, which includes focusing on improving signal operations and the employment of signal forces to meet the Army's needs. Ferrell said his office also will assess and advise on doctrine, force structure and equipping and training concepts.

  • Enhancing cybersecurity operations by diving into the cybersecurity strategy, policy, resourcing and doctrine to optimize and enable network defense and network operations.

  • Increasing network throughput and ensuring sufficient computing infrastructure to improve business and warfighting operations by updating legacy infrastructure and switches to handle more capacity.

  • Delivering IT to edge by leading the development of strategies, policies, resourcing and change management for the transition of IT users from local implementation to an enterprise capability. Ferrell said this will provide a consistent end-to-end user experience.

  • Strengthening network operations to properly enable Army missions, giving the Army a network with increased operational effectiveness, improved security and more efficiency.

"All of the Army IT modernizing initiatives are nested within the Joint Information Environment (JIE)," Ferrell said. "Part of the JIE is to implement the joint regional security stacks and the new switching technology that we are doing with Defense Information Systems Agency, the Air Force and now with the Navy. Over the next 6 to 9 months, we should have multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) capable core routers installed at 40 Army installations in the continental United States, and worldwide regional security stacks will be installed at 15 locations."

Under the MPLS effort, Ferrell said camps, posts and stations will see a huge increase in network capacity. He said the Army is installing more than 13,000 modern switches across nine installations, and is buying 20,000 more switches this year. The end goal is to improve the speed of the Army network backbone to 100 gigabyte per second from 10G per second. Ferrell said installations will see an increase to 10G per second, as well.

"We are removing bandwidth as a bottleneck to our warfighter by improving the readiness and reducing our costs," he said. "The capacity upgrades are enabling Web-based training for our Army distributed learning."

On the security side, Ferrell said the Army is working with DISA on the Joint Regional Security Stack (JRSS) with a goal of reducing the 700 that currently exist worldwide to about 23, of which 11 would be in the continental United States.

He said having just 23 security stacks, the Army and DISA will have less to defend and secure from consistent cyber attacks.

"With our Air Force and DISA partners, we just stood up this spring the first pairing of a new switching and security stack at our joint base San Antonio location, which will be operational by October," Ferrell said. "To me, that's a game changer. We are partnering side-by-side with a sister service. It's been a huge collaboration effort."

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