Partner organizations in the U.S. Navy’s Information Warfare community are introducing a radical new approach to deliver necessary warfighting capabilities to Sailors faster. This agile process starts with providing value on the first day with the first dollar of a program and stretches far into the future as it builds infrastructure for delivering command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) solutions.
To understand the obstacles Navy program managers face in getting C4I applications out to Sailors, imagine a trucking company ready to start delivering goods for customers. Instead of being able to start deliveries immediately, the company first has to build its roads and warehouses and then has to train its drivers and test them on their driving skills. And then, the company has to redo it all every time they want to transport its goods. That’s the situation historically facing PEO C4I as it tries to deliver its products. Instead of delivering capability on the first day with the first dollars of a program, program managers must “prep the acquisition battlefield” by spending time and money on infrastructure and processes. These time delays and costs are eventually passed on to warfighters.
PEO C4I now has the lead in implementing a revolutionary new process called Compile to Combat in 24 Hours (C2C24), which works in conjunction with the Information Warfare Digital Execution Plan (IWDEP). Sticking with the trucking analogy, part of the efforts under the IWDEP build the permanent road and certify drivers so that PEO C4I can deliver its capabilities to warfighters more quickly. C2C24 puts in place the technology, processes, people and policy to deliver an application and its capability 24 hours after receiving a requirement.
Development will take place in what’s called the Collaborative Software Armory—a cloud-enabled environment that facilitates continuous development and integration. Developers who have a common access card (CAC) can log into the armory using a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to access necessary development and automated security testing tools that meet the Navy’s validation requirements. When apps pass their development, integration and security testing, the system promotes them to the Application Arsenal, a tactical storefront that functions much like Apple’s App Store.
The vision is to create an environment for the Navy already common in the civilian world where the same apps are delivered over the air (instead of, for example, on a disk) and work on various devices such as iPhones, iPads or iWatches after a small amount of customization for each hardware platform. Solutions developed in the Collaborative Software Armory will be usable on multiple systems/platforms so that fleet warfighters can access the capability they need anywhere, quickly and affordably. This DevOps process means money is invested in capability, not infrastructure that is custom built for each application. Once the road is built and the drivers certified, the products are the only ongoing cost.
The C2C24 development process benefits program managers not only by allowing them to spend all their budget on capability, but also by significantly shortening the Risk Management Framework (RMF) certification process. RMF certifies products to operate on Navy systems by granting systems the authority to operate (ATO). C2C24 allows some apps to be assessed and incorporated into the infrastructure’s ATO rather than going through independent verification. For example, some applications hosted on the Consolidated Afloat and Networks Enterprise Services (CANES) architecture—a PEO C4I program—are assessed and incorporated into the CANES Agile Core Services ATO. The approval is enabled through a combination of automated security testing performed as part of the DevOps process and inheritance of security controls from the hosting infrastructure.
C2C24 provides the agile process for Navy application providers and developers to spend the first dollar on the first day on capability and not infrastructure. It helps advance the technological agility demanded in the Design for Maritime Superiority 2.0 by building on strengths to provide C4I capability to the warfighter. As in the truck company analogy, now when PEO C4I program managers get a demand signal from the fleet for new capability, they can rapidly deliver required capability at the most effective cost over an infrastructure already in place.