Army makes strides toward IT standardization

Setting technology standards is a top priority for solving a range of problems

The Army’s push forward with enterprise technology efforts is about more than just offering collaboration services across the Defense Department — it’s a move toward improved IT standardization and a single-identity system for DOD network users.

“We’re going to fundamentally change the way we deliver this network,” said Army CIO Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence Aug. 23 at LandWarNet 2011. “We have to direct the standards, configurations and common operating environment, and set forth the discipline and metrics. It’s the right thing to do.… This is the key. It’s all about the data.”

She added that the single-identity effort, which is based on the Common Access Card, is just the first step in enabling an expeditionary force that can access the network and data anywhere at any time.

Along with the ongoing efforts to institute enterprise e-mail, the single-identity push uncovered a network bogged down by patchwork standards and a lack of interoperability. That revelation has accelerated work on standardizing the Army’s network, Lawrence said.

Officials also hope that better standardization will improve IT acquisition, she said. As DOD races to catch up with commercial technology, a more standardized IT environment could lend itself to quickly deploying the latest technologies.

“This chasm is only getting wider. How do we close the gap and leapfrog? We can’t chase this…. We have to eliminate the gap,” Lawrence said. Standardization comes into play when it renders the requirements device-agnostic. “If it meets the standards and security requirements, the computing device doesn’t matter."

She noted the importance of the Army taking the first step in the standardization and single-identity processes that aim to go DOD-wide.

“I have a sign in my office that says, ‘Change is great — you go first,’” she said. “We’ve got to get into this open environment if we’re going to be successful.”

Lawrence said the efforts to institute a single network identity for soldiers and Army personnel are part of bigger plans for the Army to shrink in size and increase in agility.

“We’re going to be smaller but more capable and better trained,” Lawrence said. “As we draw down the Army, that’s going to include all aspects, including contractors.”

In a discussion with reporters today, Lawrence confirmed the likelihood that the Army will reduce the number of troops.

“We anticipate a reduced budget,” she said. “Depending on the reductions, we’re looking at taking forces out of the inventory…but at this point, we don’t know how many.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.

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