Pentagon has plan to fix its software development woes

Pentagon has plan to fix its software development woes


The concept of agile software factories is not new to DoD. They already exist in each of the military services. But the Pentagon believes that the next critical step is to integrate these relatively small centers of innovation into a coherent “ecosystem” that shares code across service boundaries, uses a common set of business development tools, and dramatically accelerates the process. safety approval for each piece. of the software that emerges from these factories.

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The concept of agile software factories is not new to DoD. They already exist in each of the military services. But the Pentagon believes that the next critical step is to integrate these relatively small centers of innovation into a coherent “ecosystem” that shares code across service boundaries, uses a common set of business development tools, and dramatically accelerates the process. safety approval for each piece. of the software that emerges from these factories.

Expanded and better integrated software factories are one of the three main goals of a new and ambitious software modernization strategy that Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks approved last week. The paper also emphasizes the need to move the military to a well-designed cloud computing environment and to reform its acquisition and other bureaucratic processes to make them more accessible to software.

“Offering more lethal strength requires the ability to evolve faster and be more adaptable than our adversaries,” Hicks wrote in a preamble to the strategy, which the DoD released Friday. “The adaptability of the department is increasingly dependent on software and the ability to safely and quickly deliver robust software capability is a competitive advantage that will define future conflicts. Transforming software delivery times from years to minutes will require a significant change in our processes, policies, workforce and technology. “

The emphasis on software factories is echoed by the Air Force’s approach to its own software modernization efforts, at least in the pockets. This service has more than a dozen such factories operating within various commands, but also considers them part of an “ecosystem” that takes advantage of Platform One, its centralized DevSecOps environment. The Pentagon formally designated Platform One as a DoD-wide business service in 2020.

While the new strategy does not require the entire department to move to Platform One specifically, it does point to the need for DoD developers to converge on a “reasonable” number of service providers and software repositories.

“Scale-based DevSecOps platforms need to provide not only technical capability, but also processes to attract and incorporate customers (e.g., business operations model, support model, and cybersecurity processes),” according to the strategy. “This DevSecOps platform ecosystem must also provide a variety of capabilities to address the department’s different mission scenarios.”

The paper takes a similar stance when it comes to cloud computing services. It does not insist that DoD components use the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) contracts that the department is preparing to award to four large cloud companies, but it does emphasize the need for a reasonable “portfolio” of contracts. business cloud that eliminate duplication.

“The multi-cloud, multi-vendor approach is still true,” says the strategy. “The cloud requirement across all classification domains, from enterprise to tactical advantage, is still valid. The need to move from different cloud efforts to a structured, integrated, and cost-effective cloud portfolio remains the intention of the department “.

The DoD’s advanced path was clearly influenced by the Defense Innovation Board’s 2019 study on software acquisition, which the new strategy calls by its name.

The imperative to share code and development infrastructure between DoD organizations is one of the main topics specifically mentioned; Reforming the internal DoD acquisition and budgeting processes to make them more compatible with the fast clip of modern software development is another.

The department has already made progress in implementing the DIB’s recommendations by creating a new software-specific “pathway” in the latest rewrite of its main internal acquisition instruction (DoDI 5000.02), but the strategy says leaders need to do much more, including by updating other informal policies and guidelines that make modern software development more difficult than it needs to be.

The strategy says that these forthcoming reforms must also include very serious changes in how the DoD thinks about its workforce.

“Developers are not the only ones who can be affected by software modernization. From infrastructure managers to operators, the entire workforce has the opportunity to help evolve technology,” the Defense leaders wrote. “The department needs to target a technology-savvy workforce, not just the fighter, but everyone who serves in the various defense missions. The entire staff needs to understand their role in delivering software. and finding ways to streamline processes, drive automation, and make better use of technology. “

While last week’s paper is a fairly comprehensive articulation of the DoD’s big ideas on how to make its software practices more relevant to real-world demands, it doesn’t really say how the department will achieve those goals. .

This much more difficult task has been handed over to a working group of DoD CIO office leaders, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Maintenance, and the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. .

Hicks’ note approving the strategy gives this agency, the Senior Software Modernization Steering Group (SWSSG), a six-month detailed implementation plan. Once that is done, the same group will continue to meet after that to make sure the department is making measurable progress. The strategy itself calls for action plans that will be updated and evaluated annually.

“The SSG will develop performance metrics to measure progress with significant operational results and periodically re-evaluate the action plan to ensure that priorities and target activities remain relevant and valuable,” according to the strategy. “This strategy will be followed by the publication of various guidance documents (eg policies, reference designs and standards) to support implementation and ensure integration with other initiatives such as [Joint All-Domain Command and Control], zero confidence and superiority of the electromagnetic spectrum. In addition, they will establish a portfolio of software capabilities to integrate activities, shape budget decisions and ensure smart investment of resources. “





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