By Carol Wortman
The Army Software Marketplace is formally changing the way the Army defines, develops, tests, certifies, and delivers software applications to Soldiers and the rest of the Army workforce. The Marketplace is part of the Army Software Transformation (AST) initiated by the Army Chief Information Office (CIO)/G-6. By adapting the latest information technology solutions and leveraging industry best practices, the Army is helping to meet Soldiers’ growing demand for capabilities.
Incorporating best-practice collaboration and innovation into the Army is reducing the barriers to entry for innovation. The Marketplace will enhance the user-feedback loop, eliminate redundancy, and promote reuse, ensuring an ongoing, sustainable infrastructure of support for ever-changing mission needs.
The Army Marketplace is a cloud-based Web environment that will provide end users, developers, approvers, and stakeholders the infrastructure to collaborate, develop, search, publish, access, and evaluate software solutions for use on the Army Network. Three key components drive the AST, which collectively enables the Marketplace to transform software development and distribution:
- Standardized end-user computing environments and corresponding software development tool kits.
- A streamlined end-to-end (E2E) enterprise software process.
- An Application Storefront.
The October 2010 release of Common Operating Environment (COE) Guidance, signed by both the CIO/G-6 and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, spearheaded the standardization of the Army’s computing environments and provides the foundation required for a successful software transformation. With standardized computing environments (common servers, clients, platforms, and mobile devices like the iPhone), the Army can more rapidly develop and deploy the secure and interoperable software applications needed in today’s theater of operations. Standardization mitigates redundancies, lowers cost, and increases operational efficiencies and effectiveness.
COE standard configurations also foster the application of automated workflows to streamline E2E processes within the Marketplace. An E2E software development process fuses heterogeneous development and testing activities (for example, security models, policies, and certifications) into a seamless workflow, enabling faster deployment of applications for access via the network.
The Army is using agile practices and “Apps for the Army” (A4A) challenges to drive the software transformation and to establish the Marketplace. The Army’s goal is to incrementally deliver capabilities and reduce the timeline between an application’s inception and its use.
The 2010 A4A challenge demonstrated the innovation and software development acumen of our Soldiers and civilians. Launched March 1, 2010, Apps for the Army was the Army’s first internal application development challenge. It also served as the launchpad for the first iteration of the Marketplace. In 75 days, 141 Soldiers and Army civilians registered in teams or as individuals to participate. By the May 15 deadline, 53 Web and mobile applications were developed and submitted. The developed apps that passed testing and certification were made available on the Army’s Marketplace, which was established via the DOD Storefront (https://storefront.mil/army). The top five winning apps support physical training, mental health, disaster relief, mapping, and recruiting.
The Army is developing the next A4A challenge—A4A-Public, the next increment of the Army Marketplace. A4A-Public will expand participation to public and commercial industry developers, thus requiring a more mature Marketplace (automated E2E workflows and COE Computing Environments) to support agile development. The main focus for this next release of the Marketplace will be the E2E process.
The Marketplace E2E workflow is being developed using a phased approach. It will guide the software developer from requirement definition and validation (inception phase) through software development (construction phase), test and certification, to deployment (transition phase) through ongoing support of the software and any of its subsequent iterations (support phase). By streamlining and automating these disparate functions into a singular automated workflow within the Marketplace, rapidly executable business practices can be established and put into operation.
To develop the E2E workflow, CIO/G-6 is conducting “Table Tops,” a collaborative stakeholder exercise/working session to address transformational change issues as well as to identify necessary actions for follow-on execution and completion.
For more information about Army Software Transformation and the Common Operating Environment, visit the Army CIO/G-6 website at http://ciog6.army.mil.
- CAROL WORTMAN is Chief Architect for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) CIO and is responsible for strategy and architecture for OSD information technology efficiencies. She formerly served as Deputy Director, Army Architecture Integration Center, Army CIO/G-6, leading the development of the Army software transformation strategy and associated pilot initiatives. Wortman holds a B.E. in electrical engineering from Youngstown State University, an M.S. in software engineering from Monmouth College, and an M.S. in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.