Army IT strategy in the works

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The Army has developed an acquisition strategy for its Enterprise Infostructure Transformation program and aims to get it formally approved in the near future, according to the Army's program executive officer of Enterprise Information Systems.

Kevin Carroll said his office developed the acquisition strategy and soon will be briefing Lt. Gen. Peter Cuviello, the Army's chief information officer, to add his input. The office then will present the strategy to the Army's CIO Board at the DOIM (Director of Information Management) conference, which begins May 13.

The infostructure program is intended to reduce the cost of maintaining information systems while improving access to information and applications servicewide.

Speaking April 24 at the Army Small Computer Program's Information Technology conference in Reno, Nev., Carroll said that the strategy calls for transformation to be carried out in chunks. It will have to be affordable and flexible, he said. The two main focus areas are e-mail server consolidation and network management.

Carroll said that a pilot program is progressing nicely in the Military District of Washington (MDW) to standardize desktop computers and servers on a core set of software based on Microsoft Corp. Windows 2000 and Active Directory software.

Under a contract awarded last month, Telos Corp. is assessing the viability of migrating Army users to Active Directory. If it bears out, the contract, which could exceed $6 million, includes options for installing the software on more than 26,000 server and desktop systems.

Active Directory is a technology that enables a systems administrator to manage systems on a network and control who can access those resources.

Lt. Col. Anthony Jimenez, program manager for Business Enterprise Systems under Carroll's office, said the MDW pilot project is "attempting to prove what we put in place works well enough to scale to the rest of the Army."

Jimenez was bombarded by questions about what installations should do while they wait for the Army's enterprise decisions and when they would be brought online.

"When we come to visit you, we'll come with everything we need to do a successful implementation of what we're doing," Jimenez said during his April 23 presentation at the conference, adding that desktop purchase orders for the first 1,000 MDW users have been put in and a virtual private network solution is on purchase order.

Jimenez said that the Army must proceed cautiously as it attempts to bring together the enterprises within the Army that are at various stages of implementation.

The Telos contract piece is being implemented first and an enterprise management phase will follow, with a statement of work due for that within six weeks, he said. That award will enable the Network Enterprise Technology Command (Netcom), which is responsible for providing management for all of the Army's IT and networks, to manage MDW as an enterprise.

Netcom, which will formally launch Oct. 1, is made up of personnel from the Signal Command and other organizations.

Col. Robert Coxe, the Army's chief technology officer, said future deployments will not be done "willy-nilly."

"We're going to do it in a way that Netcom is going to be able to make it work," Coxe said.

Miriam Browning, the Army's principal director for enterprise integration, assured audience members that things would get better, but it will take time. "Bear with us over the next year as we put together a more responsive structure in Army IT."

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