Air Force’s future state: capabilities as a service

The Air Force’s move toward what it calls a commoditized infrastructure, an effort born at least in part of tight budgets, will be built on baseline standards that will allow for the integration of new and legacy systems while protecting data and cutting costs.

“We are looking for capabilities to be delivered as a service,” said Brig. Gen. Kimberly Crider, mobilization assistant to Air Force CIO and Chief of Information Dominance Lt. Gen. Michael Basla.

Like the other military services, the Air Force has been developing a more mobile, integrated environment that can get information to airmen and soldiers anywhere, anytime, and across the services. That’s the idea behind the Joint Information Environment, the Pentagon’s push for defensewide information sharing to improve command and control capabilities.

“At the end of the day, JIE is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss,” Crider said Wednesday at AFCEA NOVA’s Air Force IT Day in Vienna, Va.

To get there, the military and industry need to develop and maintain common baseline standards — which would help meet needs while cutting costs — for the delivery of new technologies and services. “We need your input to inform the standards for that future state,” she told the audience. That future state will rely on commodities as a service, with the Air Force paying only for what it uses, but it must also incorporate some existing systems that will remain. “So it’s about new, and it’s about legacy,” she said.

And, of course, security needs to be a part of the picture. “Cyberspace is where we integrate all these capabilities,” Crider said. “A vulnerability to any one of these systems presents potential risks to us all.” Even mobile Web applications will need enterprise-level security.

Cyberspace presents a unique challenge because of the control organizations can exert over it. “You can protect the cyber domain by manipulating the domain,” she said, comparing it to the ability to not just predict the weather but control it. To an extent, the military does that, “but so can our adversaries.”


About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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