Configuration Management’s web tool helps
July 21, 2011
The Central Technical Support Facility’s Configuration Management Branch manages the deployed force software baseline for the Army Chief Information Officer/G-6 to support interoperability certification testing by receiving and verifying the software that needs testing.
The configuration management web tool allows both CTSF personnel and customers alike to access almost anything they need to know about the Army software systems processed through the facility.
After interoperability testing is successfully completed, and reports are filed with the Army CIO/G-6 for certification, configuration management performs its software management function and adds it to the deployed force software baseline.
“We send huge (software) packages to the field each quarter,” said Langston Carter,
Configuration Process Manager. “That includes approved updated software and data products, the most recent quarterly IAVAs (Information Assurance Vulnerability Alerts) per software systems, and PM- (Project Manager) supported software and firmware that has been updated and update geospatial products. We send those out directly to the Warfighter.”
Similar packages are also shipped to training centers to integration labs, he said. CM prepares each package by replicating the necessary software, burning system discs, and compiling geospatial products on discs.
In the meantime, CM is keeping track of every piece of software and every version of every piece of software that comes in to the CTSF from PMs representing the ten Program Executive Offices and dozens of systems that are, or will be, tested.
What helps CM staffers keep up with all of this is a web tool dubbed
the Army Net-Centric Assets Repository. Virtually everything the CTSF CM branch does, or touches, is accessible from an ever-growing database using the tool. Asked how long it took to build the tool, Carter said at first it has been “in the making” for the past six or seven years.
“Actually, we’ve been working on this tool for the last thirteen years. It actually grew with our processors, and it really matured last year.”
The home-grown web tool allows CM workers, test officers, and now PMs and PM representatives to pull up almost any information there is surrounding every software system tested at the CTSF.
“It gives the PMs an automated process so they can validate what we’ve done here,” Carter said.
Authorized users can, with a couple of clicks, determine for instance, the length of time it took a software version to get from configuration control to delivery to the CTSF, what day the software’s test report was signed, when it became part of the and LandWarNet/Battle Command baseline, and how long it took to get from delivery, through the test process, and to final certification.
In addition to its test-through-certification tracking functions, the tool can also be used to access test plans, test reports, Authority To Operate documentation, self-determinations letters, and a host of other system documents.
“Anything that has an expiration date we can track,” Carter said. Internally, the tool allows CM personnel to follow every piece of software that has been replicated, each hard drive that has had to be imaged, each configuration item delivered to the field, and every geospatial map product requested by the Warfighter and produced and shipped by and from the CTSF.
There is still more Carter would like to accomplish with the tool, and so its further development remains a work in progress.
“The more we play with it, the more robust it becomes,” he said.
“The more information it can provide for the CTSF, the PMs, and ultimately, the Warfighter.”