Army crashes DoD’s Windows 10 party

As the Defense Department Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen stressed the importance of the department adopting Windows 10 earlier this week, the Army thinks the transition will take much longer than the Pentagon’s one-year mandate.

Despite the gloomy outlook, the service is doing its best to get its legacy systems ready for the move to the new operating system, said Army CIO Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell during a March 24 speech.

The Army is also preparing for longer term plans by releasing a mobility strategy for industry in fourth quarter of this year, Ferrell said at the Association of the United States Army in Arlington, Virginia.

Halvorsen signed a memo in November directing the rapid transition to the Windows 10 operating system starting in January, with the goal of completing deployment by January 2017.

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“Huge challenges in [moving to Windows 10],” Ferrell said. “The mandate is to move to that environment within one year. We are challenged with that. We think it’s going to be a lot longer than that.”

Ferrell said the biggest challenge the Army has in rolling out Windows 10 is the service’s legacy systems and making them compatible with Windows 10.

The Army has hired Microsoft engineers to do an assessment of the systems and develop a road map and governance process for the transition, Ferrell said.

Halvorsen told lawmakers in a March 22 House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee hearing this week that the transition to Windows 10 is critical.

“Right now, when you try to look at the visibility of the networks, while we’re making improvements, you’re doing that across multiple operational systems, multiple baselines,” Halvorsen said. “It’s impossible to do, do well. Getting to a single baseline for Windows — and that’s about 80 percent to 85 percent of the DOD — will give us the ability to have better visibility. Windows 10 is the first operating system that really thought about security right from the beginning and has in-built features that we will take advantage of.”

While the Army may not be optimistic about its transition plans, it’s making other plans for future technologies.

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Ferrell said the Army will release a mobility plan that will set a direction for unified action on mobility technology.

DoD currently does not have a mobility strategy, but Ferrell said he is working with the department and industry partners to develop one for the Army.

The mobility strategy will be similar in style to the Army data strategy, which was released earlier this month, and the Army cloud strategy released last year.

Along with the strategy, Ferrell said the Army is working on a long term Army network campaign implementation guidance to guide the service past 2022.

Ferrell described the guidance as a “who, what, when, where and why” of the Army CIO. A near-term and mid-term plan have already been released.

The long-term plan assumes initiatives like the Joint Regional Security Stacks are finished.

“I brought in a lot of the S&T folks, the think tank folks into a room and said ‘Tell me what’s on the next hilltop, where should the Army be looking and investing in technology?’” Ferrell said. “In that document, it really talks about dynamic transport computing, edge sensors, advanced processing analytics, human cognitive enhancements. It gets into robotics and autonomous operations and cybersecurity resiliency.”

Data Centers

Ferrell also said the Army will formally begin looking for onsite cloud service hosts at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama in April.

The initiative is part of DoD’s revamp of the way it procures cloud services. Previously, DoD tried to create its own cloud service, but found it to be costly and the acquisition process too slow to keep up with the technology.

The department turned to commercial cloud services in hopes they could host DoD’s data and keep systems state-of-the-art.

This comes as Halvorsen is continuing to push DoD to consolidate and save on its data centers. DoD projects a cumulative savings of $1.8 billion through 2018 from data center consolidation, but Halvorsen said in his written statement to Congress on March 22 he thinks DoD can do better.

DoD has already established on-premises commercial cloud capability at the Navy’s Allegany Ballistics Lab in West Virginia.