The U.S. Navy’s shipboard network team wants to deliver software to sailors faster. To get there it’s looking to the cloud.

As part of the service’s afloat network, called the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services, the Navy wants to increase sailors’ access to software tools. To test the software and train sailors on the CANES infrastructure, the service is turning to digital twin platforms that replicate the network infrastructure aboard a ship.

C4ISRNET recently discussed how the Navy’s CANES program is using cloud for software development with Capt. Catherine Boehme, program manager for tactical networks at the Navy Information Warfare Systems Command Program Executive Office C4I and Space Systems.

Cloud for software development

Boehme’s team is transitioning as much of its software development efforts to the cloud as possible, reducing the reliance on physical lab environments and allowing increased collaboration among dispersed teams.

“It increases our flexibility as we’re able to stand up development and test environments in a more agile manner,” Boehme said.

The service is using cloud to test the integration of software applications before installing them on a ship and using digital twins that represent aircraft carriers Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, she said. Those computerized replicates allow continuous development and integration, installation verification, assistance in troubleshooting, configuration control and virtual training opportunities.

NAVWAR is also using the cloud to test applications that make up the Navy’s Information Warfare Platform, a collection of digital tools that will allow the service to install software on ships more rapidly.

“The goal there is to improve the performance, the maturity of the baseline, reduce any anomalies or deficiencies on the baseline and therefore a troubleshooting on the build and therefore also reduce the overall cost of the installation,” Boehme said.

For perspective, the CANES fiscal 2021 budget across all appropriations is $505 million.

DevSecOps pipeline

Boehme’s team recently completed the initial operating capability on its new software DevSecOps pipeline that will deliver applications to war fighters onboard ships. Developers will use cloud-hosted environments to create, test and deploy containerized software to ships without having to step aboard a vessel.

The creation environments represent the afloat CANES network, so when software is released, the developers will have worked out as many of the bugs or potential problems as possible.

“From the beginning of development, through integration and test, through the production environment afloat the intent is to have a common baseline on throughout all of those phases,” Boehme said.

“Then once it is on [the] afloat environment, our intent is then to continuously monitor the performance of the system and provide that feedback back to the beginning of the cycle, in development and be able to rapidly address any … deficiencies, any enhancements required, any new cyber vulnerability in a more rapid, agile fashion,” Boehme said.

The USS Abraham Lincoln will be the first ship to get the capability.

CANES training environment

The CANES program office is moving its system administrator training, called the CANES training virtual environment, to the Amazon Web Services’ GovCloud, allowing NAVWAR to offer training for multiple configurations of CANES while increasing access for sailors and students.

The Navy held previous trainings in two schoolhouses where the service had to pay for the maintenance and sustainment of the hardware the sailors trained on. Because the new training is cloud-based, the service is increasing the availability to eight locations.

“For each TVE [training virtual environment] instantiation, that sailor has their own network instantiation to learn to operate, to troubleshoot, they’re able to inject anomalies, and that sailor can then troubleshoot and has their own sandbox to leverage during … the course,” Boehme said.

The upcoming year

For the rest of the year, Boehme wants to increase the digital representation of CANES networks in the cloud to further software development capabilities.

That would allow teams to create more applications, which could include programs for command and control, battle management, or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

“We are driving to increase the number of applications that are being developed in a cloud environment and leveraging containers and microservices,” Boehme said.

Andrew Eversden covered all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. Beforehand, he reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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