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CHIPS Articles: Marine Corps pushes for early Windows 10 upgrade

Marine Corps pushes for early Windows 10 upgrade
By Marine Corps Systems Command Office of Public Affairs and Communication - April 6, 2016
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia — Marine Corps Systems Command is ramping up to deploy the Windows 10 operating system to the Corps by January 2017, in lock-step with a memo issued by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work.

The Feb. 26 memo directs the DoD to complete a rapid deployment and transition to WIN 10. Work said doing so will improve the DoD’s cybersecurity posture, and streamline the information technology operating environment.

“Implementing Windows 10 service-wide has been on our radar for some time,” said Michael Cirillo, cyber lead for Marine Corps Systems Command. “The compressed timeline just speeds up the process for full implementation, making us more secure sooner.”

One challenge from an operational standpoint, is adjusting the schedules of weapon, C2 and other programs of record in order to meet the DoD mandate. Another challenge is the increase in systems that will need to be completely replaced in addition to those already scheduled this fiscal year.

"With the accelerated timeline we're expecting to upgrade more than 50,000 devices in FY16," said Jeff Lee, product manager for Marine Corps Network and Infrastructure Services. "This compresses almost three years of tech refresh into only six months."

Because both hardware and software evolve over time, MCSC must determine which systems must be replaced, and which can be upgraded with a software update that is “pushed” to the end user or system.

Another consideration for deploying WIN 10 to the operational force are the different standards needed for tactical systems that are not regularly connected to the network, versus end-user computers that are part of the garrison network.

In order to identify and address the varying needs and requirements of the Marine Corps, MCSC conducted a 30-day pilot this spring, in four regions concurrently — East, Reserves, National Capital Region and Headquarters Marine Corps — to test the MCSC-developed WIN 10 image.

“We targeted 500 clients (125 for each region),” said Jeff Wiley, assistant product manager for engineering, MCNIS. “We deployed one Marine Corps Client Microsoft engineer and one MCSC engineer to each site, and they worked with the pilot groups to identify their varying needs and how to best address them.”

The pilot’s results will be used to finalize the WIN 10 software image for accreditation, as well as develop checklists that will facilitate replacement via accelerated tech refresh or upgrading existing WIN 10-capable computers.

Once all variables have been identified and solutions developed, new systems will be fielded where needed. The WIN 10 software package will be made available for deployment in the Definitive Media Library, the Marine Corps’ secure library that stores and protects master copies of all authorized media. The efforts of MCSC experts, in compliance with DoD directives, will place the Corps well ahead of the forecasted 2020 end of support date for the Windows 7 operating system.

“We are in this as a team, alongside our sister services, DoD, National Security Agency, Defense Information Systems Agency and U.S. Cyber Command partners,” said Cirillo. “Everyone is looking for the best solutions to implement this change and realize the benefits from doing so.”

Among other duties, Marine Corps Systems Command oversees the acquisition and sustainment of systems, applications and infrastructure to meet the needs of the Marine Corps.

Marine Corps Systems Command is ramping up to deploy the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system to the Corps by January 2017, in compliance with a memo issued Feb. 26 by the Deputy Defense Secretary. Doing so will improve the Corps’ cybersecurity posture, and streamline the IT operating environment. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Joseph Scanlan
Marine Corps Systems Command is ramping up to deploy the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system to the Corps by January 2017, in compliance with a memo issued Feb. 26 by the Deputy Defense Secretary. Doing so will improve the Corps’ cybersecurity posture, and streamline the IT operating environment. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Joseph Scanlan
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