The three-legged stool – a model for the modernization of the DoD
This content is sponsored by the CACI.
The Department of Defense has long expressed its desire to move away from proprietary monolithic systems, which are difficult to upgrade and expensive to maintain. Strategies like the Navy’s Project Overmatch must align to embrace software development at scale. To maintain maritime dominance in the face of advanced threats from adversaries close to their peers, executives must focus on driving this software development to take on new features. This is what Glenn Kurowski, CACI’s CTO, calls the three-legged stool of software development modernization: open, modern architecture; large-scale agile software development; and fully embracing a DevSecOps platform like GitLab.
The key to an open and modern architecture is the modularity and openness it brings using microservices, message buses, and abstraction layers. DoD systems tend to be complex and support high-consequence missions. Take, for example, electronic warfare or signals intelligence (SIGINT). Complex signals must be collected, processed, identified, interpreted and countered to provide the best intelligence to combatants making decisions in contested environments. These are independent processes that require dynamic management of resources. They require a heterogeneous processing environment, signal analysis enhanced by artificial intelligence, low latency to support electronic attacks and must be able to scale quickly and continuously.
“These characteristics of software development are critical, as is the commitment to open interface control documents and published open APIs,” Kurowski said. “Because if we do all of that, we get the modularity that we need. We enable third parties to innovate at the speed of relevance and we can quickly upgrade systems because we have removed the rigid links with the underlying hardware. Typically, over time, a DoD system decreases the frequency of capability updates and increases operation and maintenance costs. We reverse this equation, in effect increasing the frequency of capacity updates and reducing O&M costs.
This software-defined model of everything, delivered through a more open hosting platform approach, provides a system that can change missions quickly, through software, without costly hardware modifications. And it enables faster software development of capabilities and the application of new techniques such as machine learning to traditional digital signal processing. As the Navy seeks to establish an advantage, open architectures are the basis for network integration, automation, and new tools that share intelligence and enhance information warfare.
The second leg of the stool, large-scale agile software development, provides the capacity speed.
“This is not new to CACI – we are already implementing large-scale agile software development on some of the larger agile implementations in the US government,” Kurowski said.
These programs involve hundreds of applications and interfaces developed in parallel and fully instrumented. Agile at scale involves everyone from the start with clear definitions of functionality, building trust between different collaborative teams.
“Implementing agility at scale gives us the assurance that what we continuously produce, at a continuous speed of code delivery, are things the fighter will have great confidence in,” said Kurowski. . “The beauty is that agility involves all parts of figuring out what we’re going to develop, what it’s going to look like, and then producing it – fast! “
For Project Overmatch, an agile methodology is essential to accelerate the development and delivery of more connected next-generation capabilities that not only generate better insights and insights, but also meet critical security requirements for the multi-domain mission to which we. are facing. And once delivered, capabilities can be fine-tuned based on feedback from the fleet.
The third step of Kurowski’s software development stool is the use of a DevSecOps platform. A DevSecOps platform provides an integrated set of tools for agile planning, collaboration of all participants in the software development process, from planning to code deployment, and process automation. The result is strong configuration management, allowing the team to deliver high-quality, working code at uninterrupted speed.
“There is another important aspect,” Kurowski said. “Now you have three legs for a stool, it is now very stable. But if you don’t make these legs with good hardwood, they will fracture and crack. The same is true in the software development metaphor of the three legged stool, only the solid material we use for these legs is talent and culture. We’ve gotten really good at building the agile culture, bringing the two sides of what the industry calls CI / CD together, and getting everyone involved in the process. You also need the right talent and an interest in solving some of our most difficult national security challenges. “
SIGINT is once again a good example of the talent challenge.
“If we can proactively introduce students to digital signal processing from the start, inspire them and engage them, they will develop a passion for it and bring their incredible aptitude and native digital thinking to the problem,” Kurowski said. .
That’s why he said it’s important for agencies and industry to partner with universities. Kurowski is leading the way with several successful college programs that introduce students to national security and digital signal processing and it is already showing results in their workforce.
“The near-peer threat requires agility, agility, speed, continuous and sophisticated improvement, and more adaptable systems that can scale rapidly… at the speed of relevance,” said Kurowski. “Programs like JADC2 need the three-legged stool of software development: a modern open architecture, agile software development at scale, and a DevSecOps platform. And we have to embrace the right culture and develop the next generation of talent. This is what we focus on across our portfolio of programs for our clients.