Navigating Flank Speed
By Aaron Weis - Published, April 28, 2021
As you peruse the latest developments around DON IT, I want to draw your attention to two major developments – the sunset of CVR on June 15 and subsequent transition to Microsoft 365, and invite you to the upcoming DON IT Conference, May 24-26.
At the onset of the global pandemic over a year ago, the Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) environment was deployed by the DoD CIO to support emergency mass telework operations. For the DON, this brought unprecedented productivity and collaboration solutions to the Fleet, Shore, and Enterprise en masse. CVR provided an accelerated, unexpected opportunity for the Department of Defense to offer these capabilities to its more than 800K users. As a Navy and Marine Corps team, we demonstrated the DON’s ability to innovate and deliver capabilities to our workforce that kept it engaged on our Nation’s most significant national security imperatives during the COVID-19 crisis.
That being said, CVR was deployed as a temporary solution and will be sunset on June 15, 2021 after being extended by DoD from October 2020. The extension provided the additional time the DON needed to define and begin deploying a lasting, secure capability that aligns with the DoD Enterprise Microsoft 365 (M365) plans.
The Marine Corps has taken action to adopt M365 and the Navy will accelerate the move to M365 and the cloud through Flank Speed (FS). FS will serve as the single Navy Enterprise M365 instance and capitalizes on the latest technology for cybersecurity and zero-trust principles.
The enablement of M365 provides closer and more continuous manageability of the network, allowing the Navy to make progress toward entering and maintaining an EVERGREEN state, in which applications and features are continuously updated. The Acting SECNAV has approved the activation of 288K users in FS beginning in May 2021, with a goal for all 472K Navy ashore users to have accounts by the end of 2021. Initially, FS will provide Teams, OneDrive and office applications, with additional capabilities phased in over time.
After 15 June, the most notable changes will be:
- Data currently residing in the CVR environment will be deleted and unrecoverable. CVR users are responsible for reviewing data stored in CVR and determining what should be downloaded and saved for future reference or use; for example, files, calendar entries, chats, recordings, meetings notes, etc.
- The ability to invite guests to participate in Teams meetings will be limited to Internal DoD users.
- A lack of audio conference capability in Teams. The projected schedule will add the audio conference capability to Flank Speed by September 2021.
- Flank Speed will support unclassified systems and operate at Impact Level 5 (IL-5), which will accommodate DoD Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and National Security Systems information, including personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI).
- Use of Flank Speed when connected directly from the internet (not via VPN), whether via Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) or personal desktops/laptops, will require a CAC and the use of a web browser; data downloads will not be allowed.
GFE connected to the NIPRNET, whether from the office or via VPN, will have full Flank Speed application functionality.
As we prepare for the 15 June CVR sunset, further communications around the deployment of Flank Speed will be shared over the coming weeks.
Last November, CVR enabled us to hold a successful virtual DON IT Conference with the highest participation ever. This year’s East Coast conference, scheduled for May 24-26, will be a hybrid event. There will be reduced in-person attendance that adheres to physical distancing and it will be broadcast via Teams Live. The conference is scheduled to allow virtual participation by the DON community on both the East and West Coasts, with sessions starting at 10:00 AM ET (7:00 AM PT). Registration for both in-person and virtual attendance is required.
Please note, COVID-19 vaccination, with vaccination documentation of completed dosage (including the required waiting period after vaccination), and masks are required for in-person attendance. Conference room seating will adhere to social distancing, per DON policy.
Thank you for your support as we navigated the past year together. Your ready feedback, endorsement, and critical eye toward service delivery and operational improvements were instrumental to securing CVR and Flank Speed capabilities for our workforce. As the planned path forward unfolds, expect updates about how the DON is modernizing, innovating and defending its IT infrastructure — and how it may impact your organization.