Cut, consolidate, modernize: A new mantra for Air Force apps

The Air Force has too many applications on its network. The latest count is about 5,000 software titles, all at different parts of the lifecycle, which leaves IT officials guessing about security vulnerabilities and risks.

Frank Konieczny, the chief technology officer of the Air Force, said the service took its first step to begin gaining more control over the number of applications and where they live on the network. Konieczny said during an upcoming panel discussion on Federal News Radio sponsored by Red Hat and Carahsoft that the Air Force in October named mission area managers who are looking across the board to find apps that need to be rationalized.

“Rationalization means you may get rid of the apps, merge it with other apps or you may just modernize it,” Konieczny said. “The issue becomes you have to look at what mission the app is actually being used for and we do that by mapping against our enterprise architecture that has all the mission statements in it. What do we have to do to categorize those apps? We categorize by whether it’s JAVA based, is it unknown based, how old is it, and then we determine based on all of that whether we should modernize it.”

He said the mission area managers are broken down across four basic mission areas: business, warfighter, enterprise and intelligence.

The Air Force also is looking to control the growth of apps in the future. Konieczny said the service established four platforms-as-a-service — three JAVA and one .Net — that will eventually contain the set of rationalized software titles.

“We’ve been working on this for quite a while. We know based upon our experience at Hill Air Force base where we already rationalized 400 or 500 apps there, that the way to do this was standardize on a set of platforms and the reasons why, licensing and maintenance are easier,” he said. “We decreased our personnel staff significantly, because it’s the same platform across the board so you can patch it quickly and patch it across the board.

All four just received approval from the configuration control board in mid-October.

“The mission area integrators are the ones who are supposed to coordinate with the user community to determine what platform they should be using based on mission needs and performance criteria,” Konieczny said. “That’s the governance. You can’t go any farther to the mission area integrators without saying you have a new app or to modernize. That’s their job to figure it out and work with portfolio managers to make sure they have the money to get the job done.”

This post is part of Jason Miller’s Inside the Reporter’s Notebook feature. Read more from this edition of Jason’s Notebook.

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