HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – The people who run the Air Force’s networks strategized how to build new systems and integrate legacy military infrastructure to meet the needs of tomorrow’s Airmen at the 2019 Hanscom Enterprise IT Summit in Southbridge, Massachusetts, March 26-27.
Hanscom AFB hosted the summit and is home to Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks as well as PEO Digital, which collectively manage the entire Air Force network and many of the physical and digital weapons systems that run on it. The summit provided an opportunity for 152 attendees, split nearly evenly between government and industry, to plan how to integrate legacy systems while acquiring the best private sector systems and processes to support the warfighter.
“There is widespread dissatisfaction with the performance of the Air Force Network, and it has serious impacts on the mission our Airmen are performing every day,” said Col. Bobby King, the senior materiel leader who is responsible for life cycle management of the AFNET. “Our responsibility is to work as closely as possible with industry to transition from today’s network to tomorrow’s.”
Specific objectives for transitioning to tomorrow’s network include moving the underlying infrastructure, servers, systems and applications from on-premises servers to cloud-hosted services provided by competitively-bid contracts. Speakers from C3I&N underlined the importance of these contracts being as flexible as possible, and free of the possibility of locking the Air Force into single prime contractors.
“We built a machine to move your applications to the cloud,” said Lt. Col. Ted Erickson, who leads C3I&N’s effort to move individual applications to a Common Computing Environment. “With reliable funding, we can provide a cloud-based infrastructure for every Air Force application. We’ve moved 21 applications to the cloud, and we already know, based on feedback, that cloud-hosted applications run better, smoother and reduce the amount of manpower required to maintain them.”
Representatives from firms like Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, AT&T, several small businesses and Air Combat Command also presented. They brought the perspectives of private industry and the major command that has recently assumed responsibility for Air Force Cyber and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance operations.
Speakers also previewed the setup of a new Integrated Program Office at Hanscom, overseen by a senior officer. The IPO will unite the experiences of operators with program managers and service providers. This new office will spur what is commonly called ‘Agile development,’ resulting in faster delivery of updated software and network tools.
C3I&N will staff it with approximately 100 program experts and functional managers who will work to feed user experience directly into the AFNET acquisition process. It stood up in early 2019 and will be fully staffed by early summer 2019.