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Coast Guard building software development foundation

The cloud and data branch lives in the C5I Service Center in the Coast Guard. The C5I Service Center provides all IT development and support services for the en...

The cloud and data branch is creating the software development foundation for the future Coast Guard.

The office, which lives in the Command, Control, Communication, Computer, Cyber and Intelligence (C5I) Service Center, provides all IT development and support services for the entire Coast Guard infrastructure and aims to ensure the service can deploy capabilities better, faster and securely.

“There was a reorganization where we created the C5I Service center, and the goal was to put these shared services with a common collective,” said Jonathan White, Coast Guard’s cloud and data branch chief commander.

“In the infrastructure division, where I’m in, we provide the foundational services for the Coast Guard and for the other divisions and product lines in order to deploy their products. We are going through, I would call, a rapid modernization right now,” White said during an interview for Federal Monthly Insights – Feature Management – Cyber Perspective. “And it is very much centered around moving our systems into the cloud environment and building out our big data infrastructure so that we can do data for decisions.”

Data for decisions is a way that information is used to guide decisions aligning with your goals. In terms of applications, the data is an independent entity of applications that can draw on one or more data source.

An application is really just an ingress and egress of data. The data should be living in a relatively centralized location, and it should be enriched with other information from other applications or external sources,” White told the Federal Drive with Tom Temin. “The application is really your portal, your window to that data, to that space so that you can leverage that application to make your decisions. That’s really the modernization that I’m trying to achieve.”

Good data management is an important piece that plays when developing applications. White said one thing that comes out readily is trying to decouple applications. He said the modern way to deploy applications is to keep them basically as far away as possible from the data, to make it live in its own little world. But you define that boundary with which you interact with the data.

“What we’re doing right now is, the Coast Guard is going down the road of full agile development DevSecOps. I’m going to be responsible for when it reaches full operational capability, our software factory,” White said. “That is going to be deployed in our cloud environment and it’s going to leverage automated scanning, automated deployment, and also, checks and balances in that so that we can control the flow of applications as we start building 5, 6, 7 or 10  applications at the same time.”

White said the Coast Guard is building a continuous integration, continuous delivery (CICD) pipeline, which is a collection of 10-to-15 tools.

“Really the challenge is not necessarily building the pipeline, it’s getting people to use the pipeline. And that’s a culture shift that I’m embarking on right now in parallel to us deploying this. How do we onboard customers?” he said.

A collection of projects underway of modernization right now is the [long range identification and tracking (LRIT)], automated mutual assistance vessel rescue (AMVER) and nationwide automated identification system (NAIS). “Those three, which are now discrete applications, will now be sharing a data source, a data feed, and they’ll present the information based on what we need,” White said.

White and his team are also modernizing the U.S. aims application. It provides notice to mariners and critical information about waterways to their partners.

“We’re looking at our portfolio of applications, we’re saying what’s working, what’s not working, what’s common, and how can we collapse some of these things into a better representation of what we’re trying to achieve,” White said.



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