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Modern IT environments are necessary for Department of Defense (DoD) components to be successful, especially when a large percentage of the workforce is teleworking. The Department of the Navy (DON) is taking important steps to modernize outdated, disconnected networks and inefficient on-premises infrastructures that impede the ability to rapidly change and continue to accrue technical debt. Per DoD policy, both Services will migrate to a single enterprise tenant – one for Navy and one for the Marine Corps.
The Navy will consolidate existing legacy Exchange and Office 365 workloads into a single new Navy enterprise tenant in 2021. The target state, Microsoft 365 (M365), is a cloud-based productivity, collaboration, and security software suite designed to provide seamless Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery that can be accessed from the DoD Information Network Navy (DoDIN-N) and the commercial internet.
M365 provides closer and more continuous manageability of th
e network, allowing the DON to make progress towards an “evergreen” state, in which applications, user features and infrastructure are continuously updated. Additionally, the new network construct provides more flexibility and granular control over access policies and permissions based on identity management principles. Users will be able to access their data from any device, anytime and anywhere, thanks to the new security features. M365 will also be connected to the DoD Global Directory, resulting in enhanced collaboration across the DoD as each Military department integrates their enterprise M365 tenant with the Global Directory.
The enablement of M365 requires network modernization, reinforces cybersecurity and zero-trust principles, and provides capabilities comparable to the Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) environment, which sunsets June 15, 2021. This longer-term investment approach also provides the foundation for the DON to reduce the total cost of IT ownership by rationalizing investments decisions as part of the yearly planning and budgeting cycles.
The Speedy Way Forward
To accelerate the enablement of M365, the Navy is implementing the Flank Speed (FS) M365 environment to deliver the foundational change needed to drive key advantages. FS is spearheading the implementation of a Zero-Trust Architecture and advanced cybersecurity principles from the start and will provide enhanced visibility into who is accessing what information, improve our ability to secure, operate and defend our cloud-based environments and control the dissemination of Navy data.
Moving to a more securely configured environment and new cloud service infrastructure avoids the security risks that threaten legacy systems and environments. This is a true investment for the future, increasing productivity and security for warfighters and the workforce while ending unnecessary investments on stove-piped identity solutions and legacy security that puts data at risk. The Navy’s and Marine Corp’s adoption of M365 is a crucial step in the modernization of DON enterprise capabilities.
New Ways for the Enterprise
Change is a journey that requires deliberate planning and recognition of risks and roadblocks that can slow progress. With that in mind, the Navy is taking a comprehensive approach to communicate the capabilities available in FS and prepare the organization to embrace the new tools and practices. We learned a lot during the rapid transition to CVR Teams to support increased collaboration needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and from the Marine Corps’ migration to M365, and those lessons will be carried over into the future.
The Navy implementation plan includes a series of targeted communications and learning opportunities at all levels, from senior leadership to end users, to build awareness and buy-in, and to prepare IT staff and users alike for operating in the new environment while taking full advantage of M365 features and functions. A re-invigorated Navy Champion Network will be instrumental to building awareness of M365 capabilities by providing direct support to users in their commands, both during and after the enablement period, and by communicating feedback and identifying improvement opportunities back to the FS implementation teams.
Ultimately, M365 adoption will advance the DON’s goal of building a digital workplace; one that provides secured, reliable and flexible access to people, information, applications and processes from anywhere, at any time by authorized users on any device. This is a big step in achieving the Modernize, Innovate and Defend goals established in the DON’s Information Superiority Vision, and represents a new way of working, one that provides the DON with added flexibility and agility in responding to future events.
To learn more about Flank Speed, please visit:
Originally published in CHIPS Magazine: