FORT KNOX, Ky. — The large number of DoD employees now working from home because of COVID-19 has resulted in an unprecedented demand on network communications.
Organizations’ needs for colleagues to collaborate remotely has pushed the Defense Department to find a quick and effective solution that is secure beyond the confines of the traditional Virtual Private Network environment. Enter Commercial Virtual Remote.
More commonly called CVR, the environment allows users to conduct collaborative work using already existing Microsoft Office 365 Teams software through personal computers and mobile devices. Even better, said officials, it is approved as a secure network in which to collaborate.
“CVR allows collaboration with outside entities, so you don’t have to be connected to the network [via VPN],” said Jonathan Powers, chief of Enterprise Systems Division, Fort Knox Network Enterprise Center.”
Although offered at no cost to the government, Powers said CVR is considered a temporary solution, so the environment and any remaining data will eventually be erased once the coronavirus emergency ends.
“It’s not integrated into our email or our regular storage, so whatever’s out there will have to be moved off manually,” said Powers.
Another limitation is that the app works best using the Microsoft Edge browser. Powers said, however, that his personal experiences with CVR so far have been very positive.
“We created teams within MS Teams for our group, but we’re also part of a new project in the works, and we’ve all been collaborating and sharing documents across it,” said Powers. “It’s extremely easy to operate. It’s pretty intuitive; the buttons are laid out well — what everybody is accustomed to.
“If you’ve used Skype, it’s fairly similar.”
Part of CVR’s capabilities include persistent group chat, online meetings with cloud-based voice and video collaboration, communication and team sites in SharePoint, and the ability to manage tasks and teamwork using MS Planner.
A recent enhancement in development is the ability to enable public switched telephone network teleconference bridge lines for up to 100,000 hosts. Whether that comes online before the pandemic ends, Powers said CVR is worth downloading for those who need a safe, effective collaboration tool.
“This is a good start to relieve some of the burden on the VPN networks while people are teleworking,” said Powers. “Just remember, right now it’s just a temporary solution.”
Editor’s Note: For information on utilizing this software, contact your respective organization’s information management officer.
For answers to frequently asked questions, go to https://dodtelework.sharepoint.com/sites/CVRHub/SitePages/Top-Questions-and-Issues.aspx.
For training on how to use CVR, go to https://dodtelework.sharepoint.com/sites/CVRHub/SitePages/Get-Started.aspx.
For information on services that are available, go to https://dodtelework.sharepoint.com/sites/CVRHub/SitePages/CVR-Environment.aspx.