By Margaret McBride
WASHINGTON — The Army successfully completed the bulk of its migration to one of the Army’s highest priority IT initiatives, DOD Enterprise Email, at the end of July.
Army users can now access their email securely from anywhere in the world at any time.
This effort began in January 2011 and improves operational effectiveness, security, and efficiency. Before migration, the Army spent considerable resources managing and securing disparate legacy email systems.
More than 1.43 million Army users migrated on the unclassified Non-classified Internet Protocol (IP) Router Network, or NIPRNet, and 115,000 users on the classified Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet. This includes Active Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Army Medical Command, and Army civilians and contractors. The Joint Staff, Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, U.S. Africa Command, and U.S. European Command have also migrated to DOD Enterprise Email, or DEE.
“I want to thank our mission partners around the world who helped us reach this milestone,” said Mike Krieger, the Army’s Deputy Chief Information Officer/G-6. “It’s been a learning experience for all of us, the Army, the Defense Information Systems Agency, Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, or NETCOM, the Defense Manpower Data Center, industry, and other IT professionals.”
DISA, the service provider, hosts the DEE’s cloud-based email, calendars, and supporting global address list, or GAL. The Defense Manpower Data Center provides a data feed to the GAL.
With enterprise email, the Army greatly increases management and control of IT resources and improves execution and performance of IT services. The DEE also eliminates inefficient network configurations and many administrative costs, freeing resources for other priorities.
The Army is saving $76 million in fiscal year 2013 and expects to save $380 million through 2017.
DEE is the first DOD service to use a single authoritative identity management capability that is foundational for moving to other IT enterprise services such as collaboration, content management, and an enterprise service desk. Identity credentials embedded in Common Access Card, or CAC, and public key infrastrure, or PKI, cards guarantee the identity of all DOD personnel and greatly improve security.
More than 43,000 participants from across the Army are currently participating in the Enterprise Content Management and Collaboration Services, or ECMCS, pilot. Begun in May 2013 and running through January 2014, the pilot is evaluating content management and records management services using the DOD Enterprise Portal Service, a DISA hosted and managed solution for enterprise collaboration. The pilot will inform an acquisition decision for enterprise services.
The Army also plans to roll out Unified Capabilities, or UC, the integration of real-time communication services that include finding people online and communicating instantaneously over text, voice, and video. UC bridges the gap between Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, and other computer-related communications technologies. A request for proposal is planned for fiscal year 2014.
“We are leveraging lessons learned as we implement other enterprise services,” said Krieger. “We’ve still got plenty of work left to institutionalize DEE and enterprise services in general.”
The Army DEE team has shifted to sustainment operations, continuous improvement through performance metrics, and re-engineering enterprise business processes. In addition, the team is migrating personnel who had deferrals or extensions.
Ray K. Ragan
Mobile technology, or mobility as it is referred to by the military, is for the first time, taking a prominent role in defense. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Director, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins, Jr. announced mobility would be one of his eight initial efforts for his agency, which has raised the next question – “how to test and evaluate these technologies before our Nation’s warfighters use them?”
For the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), a U.S. defense organization charged by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to test, evaluate and certify technology and communications systems and products for joint use, this is a question that they must answer.
Testing and evaluating mobility is especially challenging when compared with technology of the past. In the past, many of the devices used by the military were purpose-built, that is, engineers designed the technology for use by the military and adhering to strict requirements. Consequently, the device and its software did not change frequently; the tests on these products did not need to re-invent themselves constantly.
DISA’s Strategic Plan describes how the agency will support its mobility initiatives as, “we will promote rapid delivery, scaling, and utilization of secure mobile capability leveraging commercial mobile technology to enable an agile deployment environment for new and innovative applications to support evolving warfighter requirements.”
“Central to automated testing is being able to script a test. Scripting is a simplified programming language that allows engineers to tell a computer how to conduct a test. Rather than having testers pick up a device and press the buttons, while recording the results, scripting can do this automatically.”
The plan’s ‘commercial mobile technology’, means devices like BlackBerrys, iPhones, the Android-based family and many others that will be used by the warfighter. With the rapid release cycle of new handsets and devices, there is no guarantee that a button will stay in the same place or the screen will be the same size from one generation to the next. Complicating matters further, software changes can change how devices behave. All these changes create many variables for engineers and testers at JITC as they test and evaluate mobility.
“The mobility infrastructure involves many device types running a large number of applications on multiple operating systems connecting through WiFi and wireless carriers to mobile device managers, backend enterprise systems and mobile application storefronts,” explains JITC’s DISA Mobility Instrumentation Lead, John LeCompte. “Testing this continually evolving infrastructure is a complex resource intensive effort.”
To meet this effort, LeCompte and his team turned to automated testing and like the commercial mobile devices they would be testing, the team looked at five commercial testing tools for mobile devices. Evaluating those tools on nine criteria, one tool emerged as the best fit for the testers’ needs that offered both, an integrated-development environment (IDE) and testing service package. The tool offers a cloud-based service that uses actual mobile devices, like iPads and Android-based phones. Devices can be connected to the cloud by two methods: hardware instrumented for the device or installing software agents. For hardware-instrumented devices, engineers have physically wired in connections to the video, buttons and other controls to allow the device to be remotely monitored and controlled from the cloud. Testers can interact with the devices through a web-based interface across a network as if they were holding the device in their hand.
The second method of connecting a device is to install a software agent on a device that is tethered to the network. An agent is a special piece of software that usually runs in the background and performs some action. In this case, the agent relays input and output from the device back to a testing IDE, where JITC technicians monitor and write scripts that perform the tests.
Central to automated testing is being able to script a test. Scripting is a simplified programming language that allows engineers to tell a computer how to conduct a test. Rather than having testers pick up a device and press the buttons, while recording the results, scripting can do this automatically.
“This allows us to write the script once and test it against many devices,” said contract Senior System Engineer at JITC, Tuan Nguyen.
The testers and engineers of JITC will need this tool, as well as others, as they meet the growing needs of information mobility on the battlefield. Not only do they have the challenge of meeting rapidly advancing technology with mobile devices, they must also address DOD-specific challenges such as security and information assurance.
“The biggest test instrumentation concern at the moment will be how to rapidly conduct static and dynamic IA [information assurance] testing analysis on mobile applications. The recently released draft Mobile Applications Security Requirements Guide is being evaluated and tools are being researched to address this need. The solution will most likely be a combination of automated and manual testing,” said LeCompte.
- Ray K. Ragan is the JITC Public Affairs Officer.