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CHIPS Articles: SPAWAR Supports Navy’s Digital Transformation with ‘Compile to Combat in 24 Hours’ Training Series

SPAWAR Supports Navy’s Digital Transformation with ‘Compile to Combat in 24 Hours’ Training Series
By Kara McDermott, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Public Affairs - April-June 2019
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR)’s Office of the Chief Engineer is conducting a series of workforce trainings focused on the Navy's Compile to Combat in 24 Hours (C2C24) framework, which aims to modernize afloat end-to-end architecture to deploy new software capabilities in under 24 hours.

The course, hosted in partnership with the SPAWAR Chief Information Officer Cloud Brokerage team and industry experts from Amazon Web Services and Red Hat, covers the core concepts of cloud computing and DevSecOps, as well as a deep dive into how programs within the SPAWAR enterprise can leverage the C2C24 framework.

C2C24 supports the Chief of Naval Operations’ vision to use commercial technology and open standards for maximum agility, speed of capability delivery and joint and coalition interoperability. Successfully piloted by the command for the past year, C2C24 provides a standardized way to transform the Navy's information environment through the adoption of a service-oriented application architecture and common standards for data formats and interfaces.

“In the information domain, both speed and agility are critical,” said Pat Sullivan, SPAWAR executive director. “Increasing our workforce’s knowledge on C2C24 and how we can integrate this framework into our programs should significantly accelerate our ability to get capabilities directly to ships at sea.”

The training series aims to eventually guide the thousands of Navy application owners on the solutions that are available to them to move into a more agile environment, which allows for quicker deployment and upgrades for fleet use.

The SPAWAR technical authority team provides guidance from a systems engineering view, evaluating an application’s compatibility for use in the C2C24 framework. Criteria includes application maturity, sustainability and cyber compliance in a cloud environment. The cloud brokerage team is the Navy’s designated authority and liaison between application owners and cloud solutions, evaluating their missions, services required and funding to determine the best cloud option. Together, with third-party commercial cloud providers, the teams guide the training participants through these standardized processes of how applications can be deployed in agile, cloud environments.

“This training is important not only for the engineering community, but to members of the acquisition workforce and program managers as well,” said Rob Wolborsky, SPAWAR deputy chief engineer. “It supports the Navy on the path to create the infrastructure, processes and conditions necessary to enable application owners and developers to deliver capability directly to the fleet within 24 hours after passing automated testing, rather than the 18-month timeframe that is common now.”

C2C24 is a data-centric approach that will provide information in context for decision making, and will improve how data is moved and used across the enterprise. It also provides the foundation for future capabilities such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, while reducing Risk Management Framework (RMF) accreditation timelines and improving cybersecurity monitoring.

Discussion during the training also focused on how to utilize the Collaborative Software Armory (CSA), the cloud-enabled DevSecOps digital environment for C2C24 that facilitates rapid delivery of software applications to the warfighter. With CSA, developers who have a Common Access Card can log on to the environment using a virtual desktop infrastructure to access necessary development and automated security testing tools that meet the Navy's validation requirements. When applications 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. Application Arsenal approved apps are then available to be downloaded or pushed to the fleet.

“We are trying to make this process as easy as downloading an app on your smart phone,” said Delores Washburn, chief engineer for Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific. “Today’s software development practices are very analog or manual. We buy hardware and physically set up a development environment and then we go through arduous manual checklists and reviews. It’s time consuming and we spend more time on the manual process than actually developing capability. The CSA ‘digitizes’ that process. The developers, testers and certifiers all now have a shared digital environment from which now we can rapidly deliver capability.”

While having a digital development environment in the cloud is important, it’s just as important to have a modernized the process to go with it. For the concept to work, CSA and process modernization must go hand-in-hand.

Additionally, the course covers the RMF Rapid Assess and Incorporate for Software Engineering in a Day (RAISED) accreditation framework, which significantly reduces the time applications need to complete RMF and is an essential enabler for C2C24.

“The more I learn about the offerings available, the more I realize how our program and likely other programs could benefit from the various services offered by cloud partners,” said Jennifer Mann, a NIWC Atlantic database administrator and software developer who attended the training. “It's made me think about what the architecture of our program could be in the future and how it can better use the services offered instead of constantly having to identify some third party software, figure out how to add it to our program, and ensure there are resources to properly utilize said software. With the services offered as part of the C2C24 effort, this could take away a large administrative and resource cost to the program."

So far the training team has hosted workshops for employees in San Diego, Arlington, Virginia and Charleston, South Carolina. Additional C2C24 trainings are planned for SPAWAR and NIWC sites in New Orleans, Norfolk, Virginia and another offering in San Diego, with a goal to eventually conduct them Navy-wide.

SPAWAR identifies, develops, delivers and sustains information warfighting capabilities supporting naval, joint, coalition and other national missions. SPAWAR consists of more than 10,000 active duty military and civil service professionals located around the world and close to the fleet to keep SPAWAR at the forefront of research, engineering and acquisition to provide and sustain information warfare capabilities to the fleet.

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