Army CIO provides update on IT projects

During a panel discussion at the annual AUSA conference, Army's CIO Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell provided an update on the projects and progress the Army is making in the IT space.

Data centers
Ferrell said the Army has awarded its contract for a pilot taking place at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. Redstone has 24 data centers, 11 of which are Army-owned. The goal of the pilot is to migrate apps into that environment, he said.

Col. Rodney Swann, chief of enterprise architecture at the Army Architecture Integration Center, has said that 25 applications have been identified and targeted for migration. "Once we do those migrations," he said, "then we're going to reach operational capability, probably sometime in 2017. … Then eventually once we do that we're going to begin to build that velocity [and] be able to migrate more and more applications."

Ferrell also discussed data center closures, offering a robust and aggressive initiative to reduce more than 200 data centers to 10. Four locations within the United States have been identified to house data centers in the future: Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Carson, Colorado; and Redstone. He also said there will be six overseas, though the Army has not yet identified those locations.

Unified capability

The Army released a request for proposals last week, Ferrell said, to acquire a capability aimed at "untethering" the soldier from the desk. This will involve video and voice capabilities, among others, and will be one of the first steps toward an eventual software defined environment, Ferrell said.


Ferrell discussed the pitfalls of continuing to operate a legacy enterprise, despite modernization efforts. In order to foster continued use, he noted that the Army is working on an initiative that should be accomplished this year to acquire tools to help automate patching and security of the enterprise.

Windows 10

The DoD-wide Windows 10 migration effort is ongoing, Ferrell said, adding that the Army is focusing on installations within the U.S. and Europe. They have 700 early adopters in Europe moving to Windows 10, he said, with approximately 28 states in the National Guard that are testing and evaluating the operating system now. The move provides a layer of security that the Army didn’t have, he said. It also means the the entire Defense Department will be working on one operating system.

Tactical space

When looking at early entry communications, Ferrell said the Army is doing a lot of work at the Network Integration Evaluation as it relates to command posts, looking at making them more scalable, more mobile, more agile, even looking at the generator power as well as wireless capability. A lot of work is being done at the tactical space, he said, which is a key focus of the Army as it looks to become more expeditionary.

Despite the positive steps Ferrell outlined during the briefing, he said he remains concerned about the security of the enterprise.

"When you look at the enterprise writ large, it’s a legacy enterprise with too many back doors, too many separate disparate networks, too many systems that are not interoperable," he said. "We have a lot of work to do and we are up for the challenge to ensure that we meet these requirements."

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