The 2.0 stage of the Marine Corps Enterprise Information Technology Services program is adding new applications and capabilities ahead of schedule, VMware’s Bill Rowan writes.
Key to the transformation of the Marine Corps IT networks is the Marine Corps Enterprise Information Technology Services (MCEITS) program. MCEITS is the foundation of the Marine Corps cloud computing strategy, which envisions the seamless access to IT services and resources to enhance operational effectiveness.
MCEITS delivers an IT infrastructure that can adapt quickly to evolving software, hardware, data, services, and management requirements by providing system and application network-centric interoperability, information access, data exchange, collaboration tools, domain security, single-point authentication, and IT service management. MCEITS is part of the Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN) -- the Marine Corps network-of-networks and approved interconnected network segments.
MCEITS is now in a second, 2.0 stage and is accelerating. A new focus on applications and capabilities is a year ahead of schedule, and is expected to be fully deployed by 2017. Working closely with the private sector, the Marine Corps has begun executing a software-defined enterprise (SDE) approach to their IT requirements. This focus on the software layer will help the Corps consolidate data centers, improve cybersecurity and enable the development of applications specifically designed to support the warfighter.
Numerous Marine Corps applications have been moved to MCEITS. Central functions like manpower assignments, equipment allowances and collaboration tools are now hosted on the platform. This centralization improves security and provides better protection against hacking. It also saves money. Legacy IT is expensive to maintain, and now less money is spent on infrastructure and more on new capabilities. Virtualized infrastructure allows for automated costing, usage metering and “pay as you go,” moving costs from capital expenditures to operating expenses.
MCEITS is the critical piece in the effort to bring garrison-like capabilities to the tactical edge. Creating an effective application-as-a-service capability increases agility and supports a more flexible projection of power by the Marines. The development lifecycle is reduced, speeding the release of more secure and cloud-ready applications. Standardized management and standardized training means more time and resources can be focused on the mission.
This standardization is critical, since time is critical when units are called upon. Marines don’t have time in the midst of deployment to configure new gear and have it functioning on arrival.
Marines will also be able to use their own devices (BYOD) when MCEITS is fully deployed. The challenge of personally owned, yet Corps-enabled devices is a very important one. Being able to share functional applications and data in a secure way on any device would increase efficiencies, since the Marines would need little training on how to use it. It would also save money and time, freeing the Marine Corps from needing to evaluate and choose a single device technology.
The software-defined enterprise is inherently prepared for the transition to cloud computing, because at the core both separate the power of the application from the limitation of the physical hardware. The Marines can enable application and data mobility while retaining full control using existing processes, people and automation. The software-defined enterprise approach is imperative to meeting DOD’s mission-critical requirements around the globe.
In today’s net-centric environment, the force with the most powerful and flexible technology enjoys a huge advantage. MCEITS 2.0 will ensure that the Marines always retain that advantage, positioning the Corps to take advantage of next-generation applications and IT architecture.