Air Force Plans A ’21st Century IT Store’
ALBUQUERQUE: The Air Force is launching a new program to offer all of its IT tools in one place. Dubbed the “21st Century IT Store,” the idea is to make getting a computer in the Air Force as easy as it is at a mall. Lauren Knausenberger, Deputy CIO for the Air Force, said the announcement would come with an industry day in January or February next year.
The 21st Century IT Store is a reimagining of end-user services, governing everything from how airmen get their computers to what kinds of programs they can use.
“If you’re onboarding in a new base, your laptop won’t be there when you get there. You’ll have a really long wait.,” said Knausenberger. Her remarks came at the AFCEA NOVA Air and Space Forces IT Day on December 15. “It should be more like an Apple Store experience. If I want a laptop, I can go to a storefront, digital or physical, all set up with the gear that I need.”
Porting that consumer experience over to the military could save time and effort, as it reduces dead time between when people arrive and when they can go to work.
If it works as outlined, the 21st Century IT Store will avoid redundancy in acquisitions by consolidating the various programs and applications into one coherent, well-defined catalog of services.
The overhaul comes on the heels of other IT modernization efforts, all built around adapting the Air Force to a fighting force that can handle data quickly and effectively, especially in battle.
“We are making thousands of kill-chains faster and automating that as much as possible,” said Knausenberger. “We want humans making the important decisions but all of the data working to our advantage behind the scenes.”
Getting the right tools into the hands of airmen in one part of this. Another is ensuring that the network capacity on bases is designed with needs in mind, rather than betting specifically on any given technology. A 21st Century approach to IT means a reliance on cloud services, and the networks that ensure access to the cloud.
That means an Air Force open to using 5G, especially in areas with low connectivity otherwise, but it also means using fiber networks where that infrastructure is readily available, and leaning on other services for extra capacity as needed.
In the process of consolidation, the Air Force will trim redundant services and tools, rather than porting everything over at once.
“We don’t want to move 400 logistics apps to the cloud,” said Knausenberger. “What we need to do is decide what is the future of our logistics enterprise.”