Push for unified capabilities is partly about 'one-stop shopping,' says Army CIO Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell. ()
The Army is launching efforts to get a comprehensive picture of its hardware and software in a bid to centralize and streamline the way soldiers use IT, whether stateside or deployed. It is an essential first step toward a more systematic, secure and efficient approach to the purchasing and use of IT, according to the Army CIO/G-6.
“When you look at how we are currently structured when it comes to IT – I always go back to post, camps and station because it’s near and dear to the soldiers – we didn’t have [a] common picture of who had what when it came to hardware and software,” said Army CIO Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell. “So the first step was, let’s consolidate and virtualize and put everybody on one platform when it comes to hardware. The second step was, let’s take a look at how do we standardize the software required for the services provided to our soldiers.”
The steps are part of broader IT efforts across the Defense Department, including the move to the Joint Information Environment and the implementation of unified capabilities that offer several technology tools through a single platform. But to get there, the Army needs to get away from an environment where numerous different types of hardware and software could be bought by components without falling under any kind of uniform standard, Ferrell said.
The goal is “the same capabilities available to all soldiers when it comes to a common baseline for hardware and software,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean the same computer, but the same capability as a baseline of services provided. We’re working with [the Defense Information Systems Agency] now to identify in a card catalog what that service entails.”
To get there, Ferrell said he is regularly meeting with leaders at Army posts, camps and stations to gauge progress in terminating legacy software that’s not in keeping with the target baseline. Army leaders also are working to virtualize hardware and establish a common platform in that respect, he added.
“The key thing is, we’re trying to gain visibility of the network, getting everybody online, in line and having DISA provide the services for us,” Ferrell said. “In the past it was user-owned, user-operated, both hardware and software – you shouldn’t care about buying this or that, you just want the service. That’s what we’re trying to move to, allowing DISA to provide the service and then we have the capability, whether in the cloud or down to the post, camps and stations.”