The Navy seeks to integrate all telework capabilities in long-term solution

A sailor aboard the USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) mans the rails as the ship departs Naval Station Rota, Oct. 30, 2020. (U.S. Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Will Hardy)

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The Navy wants its next teleworking platform to do much more than its current one, focusing both on increasing security and providing more integrated capabilities across platforms, a Navy senior IT official said Wednesday.

The goal is to be able to sync up more features, including a link between email and calendars. The focus on enterprise integration comes as the Navy was able to use more funding to modernize its telework and other enterprise systems during the pandemic. The Department plans to move to a Microsoft 365 suite that will provide the kind of integration it wants, along with hitting other modernization initiatives.

“We are really seeing a glimpse of the future in this core set of capabilities” in Microsoft 365, Andrew Tash, chief architect at the Department of the Navy, said during the Department of the Navy’s IT Conference Wednesday.

The department had initially planned to transition to a long-term teleworking solution similar to the current Commercial Virtual Remote environment, based on some Microsoft Office capabilities. The original goal was mid-December, but now the Navy is focused on building out a the full Microsoft 365 integrated platform that also has enhanced security features by June 2021.

The new telework technology is also prompting modernization across the department, officials have said. One example is that the Microsoft Office 365 suite is pushing the Navy to move away from using its intranet —  the Navy Marine Corps Intranet — to a network-as-a-service model. The department is also working to have greater intermeshed capabilities across platforms with its new single-cloud tenant policy.

“We have a cloud-tolerant architecture in place, but we need to get to a cloud-native architecture,” Tash said.

The goal is by 2021 to have as many services as possible be digital and cloud-native to support both teleworking and in-person needs once more workers can come back to bases and the Pentagon.

“We are moving to the cloud and we need everyone to get on board with the strategy,” Tash said, adding that while many parts of the Navy are all-in on cloud and telework modernization, there needs to be more unification in their efforts. “Disparate” efforts have not yielded the results Tash has hoped for, he said.

Integration could also mean new means of identity management. With capabilities nesting in one Microsoft 365 suite, users may not need a CAC card for some activities, such as quickly checking email. Procedures that require more security — like approving purchasing orders — still will rely on swiping cards for authorization, Tash said.

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Cloud, Department of Navy, IT Modernization, Microsoft, Microsoft Office 365, telework, workforce
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