By John Higgins, PEO IEW&S Public AffairsFebruary 14, 2018
Modernization for the military brings to mind many things, from laser weapons to robots.
On a simpler level, there is a key aspect of modernization that is often overlooked, and chances are you are reading this article with it: your computer.
In 2015, Matt McVey, the Chief Information Officer for Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, started laying the ground work for success by completing a technical refresh of all PEO IEW&S computers to ensure the organization was properly positioned for the imminent deployment of the new Windows 10 operating system.
The first phase of this operation was to identify the minimum requirements for Win10 to operate, procure systems that met or exceeded those operational requirements, and coordinate the timeline for 'in place updates' (IPU) and over-the-network software deployment with the Midatlantic Regional Network Enterprise Center (RNEC) at APG, Md. McVey and his team effectively optimized all PEO assets so that WIN10 images pushed out by the RNEC would install properly on first attempt; eliminating the need for significant customization to drivers and emphasizing a 'work smarter not harder' mentality to minimize mission impact.
"A lot of organizations were purchasing the lowest cost - technically acceptable equipment at the time [FY 2015- FY 2017] without accounting for emerging future requirements," said Craig Gorrell, PEO IEW&S's Information Management Officer (IMO) on McVey's team. "Our team researched to find out what the potential requirements would be to support Windows 10 back when we were still on Windows 7. We wanted to position ourselves for when [Windows 10 was approved for military upgrade], so we would have the equipment ready and in place."
That foresight ensured that the PEO purchased only those computers that were optimized for WIN10 migration to include units equipped with the hardware option trusted platform modules (TPM) 2.0 capability. Small considerations like these helped ensure PEO IEW&S computers would more effectively and efficiently support Windows 10 migration," said McVey.
Equipment upgrades were merely the beginning. Dan Dolinger, an IT support specialist with PEO IEW&S Head Quarters, created a 'bench loading environment' which enabled their team to set up multiple hardline stations and execute upgrades on those machines that couldn't be remotely updated.
"Having optimized systems to work on and our own in-house imaging and upgrading enterprise in place allowed us to migrate between seven and ten systems per day for our PEO. Other organizations that depend 100% on the already resource constrained Regional NEC to upgrade their systems were not so lucky." said Dolinger. "Adding to the complexity of the effort was the need to install any other unique, above baseline software once the WIN10 image was installed. That is, any special software relevant to their job."
Of course job specific software can vary wildly based on the different mission sets that extend from CONUS business enterprise systems to OCONUS tactical and program of record (POR) systems; as McVey and the PEO staff learned when upgrading from Windows XP to Windows7 in previous years. "The challenges were great due to the sheer number of disparate systems, driver packages, and operating systems; the more variety that you have in the target systems, the longer it can take to create and deploy custom solutions to them all ," said McVey. Based on this lesson learned, McVey knew that the success of the WIN10 migration was rooted in the standardization of systems prior to WIN10 deployment. The lesson learned there was standardization.
"By focusing our consolidated equipment buy's to a limited number of makes and models we eliminated the time and effort associated with creating multiple unnecessary driver packages and accelerated our deployment timeline by ensuring all hard drives and the configurations were optimized to accept the WIN10 pushes on first deployment. This approach proved successful as it has resulted in the PEO being well ahead of all the migration deadlines" said McVey.
As of January 30 2018, PEO IEW&S has upgraded 1371 of its 1397 NIPR, SIPR, JWICS, and DREN enterprise computer systems; or 98.14 percent complete.