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CHIPS Articles: Robert Scott Jack II

Robert Scott Jack II
Deputy Director, Deputy Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4) Headquarters, Marine Corps
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2013
As deputy director and CIO for C4, Mr. Jack formulates and provides broad policy guidance governing information technology, cyber security, and communications infrastructure and applications in support of the U. S. Marine Corps. Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Jack served as the Director of Communications and Information, Headquarters Air Force Global Strike Command, Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

Mr. Jack was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 2005 with 33-plus years of federal civilian service and six years of active duty with the U. S. Air Force. He entered the Air Force Reserve in July 1982, retiring from the Reserve in December 2000 with more than 24 years of service in various assignments at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; Scott AFB, Ill.; and Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C. Mr. Jack responded to questions in writing in early April.

Q: Can you discuss your communications work for the Air Force and how it may be similar or different in regard to your new position with the Marine Corps?

A. I would say that my 39-plus years of working across numerous Air Force, DoD, and other federal agencies gave me the universal skill sets to hit the ground running upon being assigned as the Deputy Director of Command, Control, Communications and Computers. The prime role of my position is to deliver information and communications capability to the warfighter. In this assignment, the warfighter is the Marine Air-Ground Task Force, or MAGTF, and the Marines assigned to its elements.

The nuance between my previous assignments and my current role is the MAGTF operates in an amphibious/ expeditionary environment where bandwidth is a very constrained resource. This reality drives the need for every system, service, and application deployed forward with the MAGTF to have the ability to reach back to a garrison or enterprise authoritative data source. To achieve this, our systems must be bandwidth lean, light in weight, and efficient in their power consumption.

One other factor that will define my tenure in this position is the extremely constrained fiscal environment. The measure of merit for the next few years will be to maximize the return on investment [for] every dollar we get allocated. With that said, we are also going to maximize those capabilities we already own. Lastly, our Marine Corps C4/IT efforts will be focused on meeting the tenets of joint interoperability to achieve mission assurance across the spectrum of operations.

Q: The goals of Data Center Consolidation are to shift IT investments to more efficient computing platforms and technologies; reduce the operation and maintenance costs of data center hardware and software; reduce the overall energy and footprint of government data centers; and increase the overall IT security posture. Can you discuss the Marine Corps’ progress in achieving these goals?

A. Improving the efficiency of ourcomputing platforms is a top priority. Since May 2012, when the Marine Corps Private Cloud Computing Environment (PCCE) Strategy was published, the Marine Corps has been focusing on the benefits of developing a private cloud. One of the forces driving cloud development is Marine Corps Enterprise Information Technology Services (MCEITS), which provides enterprise IT services contained within an application and data hosting environment with supporting communications, computing network information assurance, and enterprise services infrastructure.

MCEITS will be the catalyst for moving the Marine Corps toward an integrated, consistently managed enterprise hosting environment that complies with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI).

One of the key tenets put forward in the Marine Corps Private Cloud Computing Environment Strategy focuses specifically on IT efficiencies and the concept of green IT. Some of the key selling points include servers and their processing power being better leveraged, promoting effective online collaboration, and utilizing storage virtualization technology, which allows the end user to pool storage resources and easily scale storage resources as needed.

Controlling access to data in the cloud will be a critical factor; however, the benefit of etablishing a private cloud is that the network is a contained environment that enables seamless, secure command and control functions even in locations of constrained bandwidth.

Q: How has virtualization and system and application rationalization supported the Marine Corps’ Data Center Consolidation efforts to achieve additional efficiencies?

A.The Marine Corps is focused on virtualization, as well as system application inclusion to the Marine Corps Enterprise Information Technology Services environment. Using an inclusion process and leveraging the capital planning and investment control (CPIC) process, the Marine Corps will develop relevant metrics and assess proposed services/applications for enterprise deployment onto MCEITS.

Q: Is the Marine Corps still using a regionalization strategy to consolidate and operate management of the Marine Corps Enterprise Network? This effort was designed specifically to support Marine Expeditionary Forces and supporting establishment organizations — can you talk about how it works? Are the regionalized centers designed to be interoperable with the Defense Department enterprise using the Joint Information Environment (JIE) framework?

A. My Department, Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4) is currently working on a Unification Campaign Plan that addresses specific objectives in support of the U.S. Marine Corps Regionalization Strategy. Executing the Marine Corps Regionalization Strategy will evolve the Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN) into a tightly integrated, agile, defensible and survivable network capable of maintaining a superior security posture, supporting highly distributed operations for improved response to our warfighters, and operating the supporting establishment as an efficient and effective business enterprise.

Additionally, by executing the requirements of the Office of Management and Budget Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative through the Regionalization Strategy, the Marine Corps will increase its operational efficiency and reduce total cost of ownership for IT Infrastructure assets. This will be achieved through the reduction of energy consumption, the real estate footprint, physical and IT security costs, and hardware maintenance costs. We will adopt JIE standards to ensure interoperability as they are developed and promulgated.

The MCEN is the Marine Corps’ network-of-networks and approved interconnected network segments. It comprises people, processes, logical and physical infrastructure, architecture, topology, and cyberspace operations.

Q: Can you talk about the progress in establishing the MCEITS framework which hosts an application and data hosting environment with supporting communications, computing network information assurance, and enterprise services infrastructure? Specifically, can you discuss how many applications have been migrated and how much savings has been achieved?

A. Additional Marine Corps applications are scheduled to move onto the MCEITS environment during fiscal year (FY) 13. These include several applications that were previously hosted in the Defense Information Systems Agency Defense Enterprise Computing Centers. The current plan is to have up to 15 applications hosted on the environment by the end of FY13, and we expect this number to grow through FY17.

The focus of MCEITS has always been on efficiency, consolidation and cost avoidance. Unfortunately, like many other programs across the Department of Defense, the MCEITS program is also facing the challenges associated with potential funding reductions across the Fiscal Year Defense Plan.

Q: I read that the Marine Corps is conducting an analysis of information and data requirements to shape the information elements needed and then to apply appropriate resources to address these needs. Do you have the results of the analysis and plan of action yet? Does the Marine Corps have a data strategy and how does it relate to your application rationalization strategy?

A. The Marine Corps has started analyzing the information and data requirements for the Business Mission Area, which will continue in the foreseeable future. Marine Corps Order (MCO) 5231.3, published in 2009, brought forward a new data strategy that aligned to the DoD Net-Centric Data Strategy, which was intended to make data more visible, accessible, understandable, trusted, and interoperable. MCO 5231.3 complements other Marine Corps policies related to the application rationalization process by mandating the registration of authoritative data sources, while at the same time identifying and eliminating unnecessary data repositories.

Q: Can you describe any other initiatives the Marine Corps is working on to further reduce business IT spending and increase operating efficiencies?

A. Mobile Device Strategy — Historically, the ability to use mobile devices on Marine Corps IT networks has been limited to those individuals deemed as privileged or mission-essential users; however, with an increase in recent trends towards teleworking and mobile computing (see DoD Instruction 1035.01 that addresses using personally owned computers on unclassified DoD systems/networks), the DOD is starting to shift to an environment where mobile access to networks and information is no longer limited by this parameter.

In turn, the Marine Corps also recognizes the trend of evolving information needs, as well as the need to provide an agile method of meeting those needs. To align with recent DoD strategies and increasing mobile workforce requirements for IT consumerization, C4 has been leading the development of the Marine Corps Mobile Device Strategy. The strategy, which is currently in the final stages of approval, intends to establish a secure mobile framework that enables the Marine Corps to identify mobile device capability requirements, leverage existing resources, and promote the concept of using approved personally owned mobile devices.

In order to achieve the strategy, we have identified the following four goals: (1) Establish a Secure Mobile Framework; (2) Transition the Unclassified Mobile Device Infrastructure to a Cost Effective and Platform Agnostic Environment; (3) Collaborate with DoD and Industry Partners to Develop a Classified Mobile Device Capability; and (4) Incorporate Personally Owned Mobile Devices.

Hosted Virtualized Desktop
C4 recognizes and understands its responsibility to make sure IT services are being distributed across the enterprise in a manner that is both fiscally and operationally efficient. In recent years, C4 has demonstrated this through the development of strategies that focus on moving towards a more cost-effective organizational IT model.

For example, the Marine Corps Private Cloud Computing Environment Strategy envisions a future where services can be accessed from anywhere across the Marine Corps information environment at any time, via the Marine Corps Enterprise Network to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can rapidly be provisioned and released with reduced management effort.

As a result of this strategy, capabilities like desktop virtualization can be leveraged to employ a more effective way of managing user computers, provide users with the ability to access hosted desktops remotely, and generate savings in total cost of ownership from the consolidation of physical servers. We are currentlyin discussions with industry partners to establish a way-ahead on the implementation of this capability at the enterprise level.

Marine Corps Regionalization - September 2012

What is it?
The Marine Corps Regionalization Strategy describes the consolidation, operation, oversight, and management of the Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN) by defining and assigning 4 regions and 8 sub-regions of responsibility. Conceptually and functionally, these regions form the backbone of all net-centric operations for the Marine Corps Information Enterprise (MCIE). The Marine Corps Network Operations Security Center (MCNOSC) provides enterprise-wide operational oversight; the RNOSCs provide policy and regional oversight to their respective Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) IT Security Centers (MITSC); and the MITSCs serve as support centers for the bases, posts, and stations within their region, providing IT support and enforcing established IT policies.

The consolidation of MARINE CORPS IT Infrastructure assets under the Regionalization construct also aligns with the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB): the MCNOSC, ALTNOSC, Marine Corps Enterprise IT Services (MCEITS), and ALT MCEITS are classified as Enterprise Data Centers and the 8 MITSCs except MITSC-HQMC (the Pentagon IT Infrastructure assets are owned by the Army) employ a Regional Data Center. These data centers also provide a Continuity of Operations (COOP) capability.

Why is it important for the Marine Corps?
The execution of the Marine Corps Regionalization Plan will evolve the MCEN into a tightly integrated, agile, defensible, survivable network that is capable of maintaining a superior security posture, supporting highly distributed operations to be more responsive to our warfighters and their missions, as well as operating the Supporting Establishment as an efficient and effective business enterprise. In addition, by executing the requirements of the OMB FDCCI through its Regionalization Strategy, the Marine Corps will increase its operational efficiency by reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of IT Infrastructure assets through the reduction of energy consumption, the real estate footprint, physical and IT security costs, and hardware maintenance costs.

What is the current status?
The Marine Corps has completed establishing the RNOSC and MITSC construct, the 4 MARINE CORPS Enterprise Data Centers and the 7 Regional Data Centers. The Marine Corps is currently engaged in multiple efforts within the MITSCs to continue identifying and transitioning isolated server-hosting facilities to its Enterprise / Regional Data Centers.

What is next?
The Marine Corps will utilize its developed Application Inclusion Process (AIP) and leverage the Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) process to develop relevant metrics and assess proposed services/applications for enterprise deployment onto MCEITS. To facilitate the transition and alignment with the regionalization vision and strategy, the Marine Corps is planning to leverage new technologies when feasible, including virtualization, thin client, and cloud computing. Implementing these technologies will enable the Marine Corps to consolidate physical resources, reduce reliance on individual hardware, see higher equipment utilization rates, experience less application downtime, and achieve greater organizational flexibility.

Robert Scott Jack II
130321-M-OH054-015 (Left) Lance Corporals Nathaniel E. Winstead and Tony M. Chavez, both radio operators with 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, log radio checks within the command operations center, set up aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, March 21, 2013. From March 14-21, the 13th MEU set up their COC for a MEU Exercise to better train for their Western Pacific deployment this year. Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Christopher O’Quin.
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