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CHIPS Articles: Air Force hits key milestones with commercial IT

Air Force hits key milestones with commercial IT
By K. Houston Waters, 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs - July 24, 2020
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) -- The Enterprise IT-as-a-Service Integrated Program Office, headquartered at Hanscom Air Force Base, has reached several major milestones in its effort to migrate users to commercial IT providers.

First, the office connected 100% of users at two Air Force installations to commercially available networks provided by AT&T. The first migration, which took place at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, successfully concluded June 8. Another migration concluded shortly after at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, June 15.

Following these migrations, the program office received approval June 22 to migrate 10% of network users at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, to the new commercial network, also provided by AT&T. The migration is scheduled to begin in early August.

The team expects the transition to commercially available networks will reduce routing and redundancy errors while increasing scalable connectivity options, thus improving overall user experience. The office is collaborating with AT&T to monitor performance, mitigate issues, and measure the impact of scaling the network.

“The milestones at Buckley (AFB) and Offutt (AFB) were critical steps that helped set the foundation of IT transformation across the Department of the Air Force,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Schmidt, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks. “We will work toward the best path forward on rapidly deploying commercial solutions by partnering with all of our vendors and delivering commercial IT services that enhance mission accomplishment. We must deliver a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure if we’re going to stay ahead of our adversaries.”

In addition to the migrations at Offutt AFB, Buckley AFB, and JB Elmendorf-Richardson, the program office completed migration of 10% of network users at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama to a commercial Wide Area Network provided by Microsoft July 8. The team received approval to begin a similar migration at Gunter Annex, Ala., June 24.

“Migration to a commercially-provided network is a paradigm shift and a key component in testing the ability of the Air and Space Forces to fully embrace, adopt, and consume services from a commercial partner,” said Col. Robert King, senior materiel leader, Enterprise IT and Cyberspace Infrastructure Division, C3I&N. “We want to make sure our users from the Air and Space Forces have access to the most secure and reliable network possible.”

The migration was part of the Network-as-a-Service component of EITaaS, one of the program’s three lines of effort. Other lines of effort include End User Services and Compute and Store.

The goal of the EITaaS transformation program is to enable joint, all-domain operations through modern, stable and secure digital infrastructure serving as the foundation for future joint warfighting.

Airman 1st Class Wesley Carrow, 52nd Communications Squadron client systems technician, performs routine maintenance on computer systems connected to the Air Force network, April 6, 2020. In June, the Enterprise IT-as-a-Service Integrated Program Office, headquartered at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., began migrating users at a number of military installations to commercially available networks provided by both AT&T and Microsoft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alison Stewart)
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