Insight by Leidos

How Leidos manages many thousand endpoints through standardization, PCaaS

Leidos enterprise infrastructure leader John Morton shares strategies that aim to balance usability, flexibility and best-of-breed security.

This is the first article in our IT lifecycle management series, Delivering the tech that delivers for government.

Supporting employees and teams on the frontlines — the people on government contractor teams helping meet federal missions anytime, anywhere — is a balancing act.

“When you think about the endpoints, these are an extension of our network. A person — they travel, take it on the plane, go to a different office location. It’s a varying number of environments that the endpoint is in,” said John Morton, vice president of enterprise infrastructure at Leidos. “Making sure that we’re keeping security at the forefront — being able to secure our endpoints yet not disrupt the user — it’s a balancing act.”

For Morton and his team that’s a continual element of managing an enterprise infrastructure that 46,000-plus Leidos employees globally on to meet business demands and deliver services to customers worldwide, many of them federal agencies.

It’s a job for which Morton is ideally suited given his experience leading and being part of teams that worked directly with federal agencies to meet their missions.

Morton shared how Leidos tackles these enterprise demands — achieving that balance while keeping an eye on the bottom line — for the Federal News Network series, Delivering the tech that delivers for government.

Deriving benefits from standardization, PCaaS

A chief aid in finding balance, Morton shared, has been to standardize endpoint offerings and implement PC as a service.

A chief benefit of PCaaS really is that it’s a full-fledged offering, he said. “You come in day one, you get an asset, all the software, all the labor, the maintenance, the management — that is all included in our PCaaS offering.”

Plus, while the company has standardized on laptops and desktops and software for endpoints, it provides a variety of devices based on user personas. There is continuity across the endpoint assets but also flexibility to meet specific user needs and adapt to client mission requirements too, Morton said.

“It’s a shared service model from a financial perspective. So as individuals come into the organization and opt in to PCaaS, obviously, it’s a certain cost across the organization,” he said. “That ultimately lowers your per user costs. So there are  financial gains and efficiencies as well.”

Looking to AI to thwart adversarial attacks, proactively manage devices

While reducing friction for users remains critical, protecting corporate assets and data from cyberthreats is no less important.

It’s an area where Morton sees the potential for artificial intelligence to help, particularly with hardware. Leidos has an incubator where teams innovate how to apply AI to everyday needs.

“There’s now a focus from the adversary perspective, where they’re starting to attack below the operating system. When the user hits the [power] button, you’re automatically susceptible to adversarial attacks,” he explained. “We are now starting to work on how we protect the bootup time, the BIOS time, the things that go on below the operating system.”

Teams at Leidos are taking offensive perspective. Criminals are using AI “for adversarial harm and ransomware attacks, thus we’re leveraging our AI capabilities not only at the OS level but at the hardware level through our partnerships,” Morton said.

Another innovative AI tactic? Gathering and analyzing telemetry data on users’ devices to proactively manage and maintain them rather than wait for problems to arise, he said.

“We are gaining insights and observability into those endpoints. … We’re trying to be a little more proactive and flip the script to more of a predictive analysis versus a reactive model — where we’re actually performing some self-healing based on certain tendencies and actions and events that are really occurring across the enterprise.”

It’s about the user — always keep that as your baseline

No matter what new technology he and his team implement, Morton said it always comes back to the employees, the users of the technology and tools.

“It’s centered around the user, the user persona and user experience,” he said. “Are the users happy? Have we done our job and really made it somewhat transparent? Are we providing that workplace of the future, providing digital ambidexterity?”

Ultimately, can a user work no matter what scenario arises?

Again, Morton expects AI and increased telemetry data about users’ devices to pay dividends in ensuring continuity of operations. “These things will give us additional data, will provide better observability and analytics, to make informed business decisions and really increase overall user experience.”

Discover more stories about how federal systems integrators and government contractors manage their enterprise infrastructure environments in our series Delivering the tech that delivers for government, sponsored by Future Tech Enterprise.

To listen to the full discussion between Leidos’ John Morton and Federal News Network’s Vanessa Roberts, click the podcast play button below:

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