Air Force sets IT services strategy

Enterprise thinking is catching on at the Air Force. During the past two years, information technology officials have consolidated computer servers and networks and have standardized desktop computers to achieve more consistent hardware configurations across the service, annually saving an estimated $200 million. Now they have their sights set on IT services.

A new draft Air Force Enterprise IT Services Strategy describes a common set of services that would be available to Air Force personnel via the Web. "The enterprise IT services strategy is the next step in moving forward to an enterprisewide, net-centric capability," said John Gilligan, the Air Force's chief information officer.

The document identifies nine servicewide IT capabilities that service officials want to offer personnel. One is mediation, which would improve data sharing among old and new systems and among military and industry personnel. These capabilities will be available to users wherever they go.

Air Force personnel often have difficulty, for example, transferring and receiving e-mail when they are deployed overseas or sent to a new base in the United States.

"We want to help them better complete their mission," said Lt. Col. Dan Altobelli, division chief for strategy in the Air Force's Office of the CIO.

One outcome of the new strategy could be a procurement for services to help the Air Force manage storage-area networks and data warehouses. "We want to harmonize them," Gilligan said. "We may need to hire someone to orchestrate that."

Technology experts generally agree about the benefits of the Air Force's strategy. Consolidating hardware, software and IT services saves money, said Harold Youra, president of Alliance Solutions LLC, an IT consulting company.

Last year, James Roche, the Air Force's secretary, and Gen. John Jumper, the service's chief of staff, requested a new strategy that would help the service improve its use of data and technologies. The strategy grew out of a 2-year-old initiative to manage IT as if all of the Air Force's components were a single enterprise.

The first step was to consolidate computer networks and servers. Gilligan said the two projects have saved $200 million a year and have allowed service officials to move about 1,000 personnel from administrative to warfighting positions.

Air Force officials said they hope to begin carrying out the enterprise IT services strategy this fall. They are giving industry officials about a month to read the draft strategy document and submit comments. Service officials will make any needed changes next month and start implementing the strategy in October, Altobelli said.

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Air Force global services

Air Force officials have identified the following nine servicewide capabilities they plan to offer personnel via the Web:

Collaboration.

Web search/discovery.

Messaging.

Enterprise storage.

Enterprise application hosting.

Enterprise services management.

Information assurance security.

User assistance.

Sharing data among old and new systems and among military and industry personnel.

Source: Air Force Office of the Chief Information Officer

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