For the past decade, the Pentagon’s IT leadership has struggled how to prevail on the military services and Defense agencies to combine their emails and office implements into something that resembled a unified and consolidated enterprise. After trails and tribulation, multiple setbacks, and even a worldwide pandemic, the Defense Department has finally achieved that goal.
The biggest catalyst for change is a project called, “Commercial Virtual Remote” or CVR, the implementation of Microsoft Teams that DoD launched in March 2020 as an emergency measure to let millions of employees do their jobs from home. At its peak, CVR, hosted in a commercial cloud, handled online meetings and collaboration services for 2.3 million users throughout the department. The wildly-successful service finally went dark on June 15, after having been extended several times. “Typically, when we have the luxury of time, that’s our default. But the experience of CVR has shown that working together as an enterprise really does work.” Danielle Metz, DoD’s deputy CIO for information enterprise said in an interview for Federal News Network’s On DoD. Once a widespread user base adopted and grew to like CVR, it became apparent to IT leaders throughout the department that the demand for cloud-based collaboration wasn’t going to subside.
So, defense components dramatically accelerated their plans to migrate users to more permanent cloud offerings that offer the full suite of Microsoft 365 tools. Danielle Metz proclaimed that 80% of the department’s workforce had already made the transition by the time of the June 15 CVR shutdown. And some DoD components are ahead of others. The long-term replacements differ from their predecessor in several important respects. “CVR was a standalone capability — it was just Microsoft Teams, and it had limitations, by design, because it fit a very specific need,” Metz said. “The 365-cloud environment covers the totality of our controlled unclassified information, and it integrates all of the Office suite productivity — Teams, Outlook, all the Microsoft applications. And it will have the additional security that we didn’t have in CVR, just because it was an extraordinary circumstance.” Another major difference, is the full-fledged cloud productivity suites Defense employees will use from now on aren’t strictly an enterprise service in the same way CVR was. But Metz said the federated environment should still operate more-or-less like a unified enterprise. The department intends to build on lessons it learned from securing CVR, when it used a single cybersecurity services provider. For the time being, the department will give up some of the economy-of-scale pricing advantage it might have achieved by negotiating a single agreement for CVR directly with Microsoft. However, Metz said DoD’s components will still use a relatively small number of consolidated contract vehicles to purchase their Microsoft licenses. The department is strongly encouraging them to buy the services through the $7.6 billion Defense Enterprise Office Solutions (DEOS) contract DoD and the General Services Administration awarded to Leidos in 2019.
Ultimately, the department also wants to reduce the total number of Microsoft 365 tenants it will have to stitch together in the new federated environment. As of now, there are 13. Another key legacy of CVR is a restructuring of the Defense Department’s connectivity to the public internet. When the pandemic started, DoD’s networks were architected with the assumption that almost all of its employees would be working inside of government buildings with direct connections to government networks. Those pandemic-related capacity upgrades will play an ongoing role in the new federated environment, Metz said. “Many DoD leaders are looking at how we’re going to bring people back to work. If we’re going to have a hybrid model, [we’ll need] robust networks and bandwidth, government-furnished equipment, the ability to do the full complement of our work regardless of where you are,” she said. “That affords DoD leadership the
ability to be able to make those types of decisions, because we have the footprint now. It should not matter where your workforce is located, they will be able to execute their mission safely and securely.”
By: Ameer Ford
Source: i https://federalnewsnetwork.com/on-dod/2021/06/adieu-to-cvr-the-platform-that-taught-dod-how-to-act-as-an-it-enterprise/ ii https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2287356693357/adieu-to-cvr-the-platform-that-taught-dod-how-to-act-as-an-it-enterprise