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Flank Speed, as the name suggests, is an accelerated, high-speed approach to implementing and adopting a technology across the Department of the Navy (DON), which is vital for modern operations and collaboration. "We have moved with unprecedented velocity and scale to date and as we further out these Flank Speed capabilities, you will see a deliberate shift toward our customers’ experience," said DON Chief Information Officer Aaron Weis.
As the Flank Speed journey continues, user adoption is increasing, evergreen capabilities are being delivered and new services, such as Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), are continually added and cross-tenant collaboration is improving within the Department of Defense. Other branches of DoD are developing similar cloud strategies to meet the need for global access to data and operational capabilities. Cloud technology has long been embraced by the commercial world for its improved data access, flexibility, redundancy and risk reduction. The Navy recognized this need even before the COVID-19 pandemic and was already planning and testing the concept. The pandemic accelerated the need for cloud-based, distributed access and the Navy applied significant resources and focus to make Flank Speed a success.
Cloud adoption and understanding did not come easy and required a level of technical learning and acceptance. The Navy initiated a number of best practices to support the cloud transition which continue to be utilized across the environment. A Flank Speed Hub was created as a single point of information and support to guide new users from day one through user maturity. The Hub offers a single location for guides, instructions, updates, news, success stories and other useful resources. Since its inception, the Flank Speed Hub has received over 8 million visits.
The Navy also resourced dedicated training support through Evolve 365 to offer live, recorded and on-demand training and resources to support users at all stages of their Flank Speed transition. The Evolve site currently has over 13,000 registered users taking advantage of training and guided resources.
One of the real keys to success was due to neither hardware nor software, but people. In the beginning of each command’s transition to Flank Speed, volunteers who received early training and access to better support and communicate changes as each command entered the cloud. These volunteers, better known as Flank Speed champions, provided onsite and day-to-day support, as well as encouragement needed to gain adoption momentum. Champions developed tailored approaches to foster adoption of the new technology and to accelerate the cultural change from NMCI to Flank Speed. They utilized virtual office hours, Microsoft (MS) Teams sessions and learning events, and developed supporting resources and documentation to aid their commands and leadership. These 4,900 dedicated individuals were vital to the leap forward in Navy network technology.
The suite of tools and applications available to all users continue to grow and enhance the ability for commands, leaders and users to work together in a truly global fashion. In the last six months alone, the Navy has added 135 new features to the Flank Speed toolset. Rapid and continuous evolutionary approaches are what set Flank Speed apart from other technology implementations. Cloud technology allows users to access information from any device – reliably, accurately and securely. With the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) mind set of Get Real, Get Better, the DON recognizes the advantages of this technology and is racing to achieve full transition and maturity.
"It is an exciting time to be pushing forward on Flank Speed,” Mr. Weis said We have seen a huge amount of capabilities go live since we launched the platform and our customers can expect more goodness to come in terms of new service offerings, improvements across the tools, and reacting to 'Get Real, Get Better' as we operate across the globe."
Flank Speed Fast Facts
507,000 global Flank Speed Users
13,000 registered for Evolve 365 Training
8 million+ Flank Speed Hub visits
4,900 Flank Speed Champions connected globally
Continually evolving roadmap of new applications and tools
135 New Flank Speed Features added in the last six months
Flank Speed Fast Facts
Michael Kimener is a contractor supporting Program Executive Office for Digital and Enterprise Services (PEO Digital).
Originally published in CHIPS Magazine: