Marines untangling kinks in Windows 10 transition

The Marines Corps isn’t exactly sure how it is going to go about adopting Windows 10 by 2017, but it is planning on meeting the deadline and soliciting industry’s help in doing it.

“We’ve got 90,000 unclassified computers, probably another 30,000 tactical computers that we have to put [Windows 10] onto, we have programs of record, we have every sort of vehicle, everything is connected now,” Ronald Zich executive assistant for Marine Corps Headquarters Command, Control, Communications and Computers said Jan. 22. “If you ask me today if we are going to get there, I’m going to tell you ‘Absolutely,’ I just don’t know how yet. So, if your company has some Windows 10 experience, if you have some experts on how to do 120,000 computers on multiple network … let me know.”

The Marine Corps is planning on finishing the Windows 10 transition in 2016 Zich told Federal News Radio after an AFCEA event in Vienna, Virginia. The Marines are already working with contract partners, systems command and the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Zich said once the Windows 10 image is published by the Defense Department, which will probably be within the next month; the Marines will begin executing the transition.

The image “provides administrators with a common core operating picture that makes it easier to identify and isolate anomalies. …  In addition to reducing security risks, building [a secure host baseline] image lowers the overall cost of managing a network,” a National Security Agency factsheet states.

The Marine Corps is going to transition the easier computer systems to Windows 10 before it moves to more complicated architectures, Zich said.

“We are going to get our lessons learned and then we are going to start nibbling away at our harder projects,” Zich said.

DoD Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen directed a rapid transition to Windows 10 starting January 2016 for all DoD information systems in a November memo.

DoD is currently working with a jumble of different operating systems from Windows 7 and 8 all the way down to Windows XP, which was first released in 2001.

“What the Department of Defense is looking to do is improve its security stance and to provide for more consistency throughout the agency,” Nigel Hughes, vice president of sales at SteelCloud told Federal News Radio. “This is a major undertaking. There are obviously millions of desktops throughout the Department of Defense. To move everyone to a Windows 10 platform is a significant undertaking, but it brings tremendous benefit to the department.”

Zich said Windows 10 will offer some security advantages for the Marine Corps.

“There’s a lot of aging desktops in and around the department that will all benefit from being able to move to the state-of-the-art [operating system],” Hughes said. “That will provide for much more communications consistency, reliability and security. If everybody has the same security platform I think it’s going to make tremendous benefit to the department.”

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