Air Force Aims for Enterprise Information System
The goal is to extend capabilities to individual airmen and guardians.
The U.S. Air Force will be flying in a different sort of cloud as it matures its information technology systems. Its Cloud One system will be at the heart of equipping everyone in the Air Force and the Space Force with access to vital information as it embraces multidomain operations.
Lauren Knausenberger, chief information officer, U.S. Air Force, described the future Air Force information environment at the AFCEA Rocky Mountain Chapter’s Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium being held March 8-11 both virtually and at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She reported that many elements will need to come to pass, including better cyber training, for this new enterprise information system to realize its full potential.
“We are at an inflection point with our air and space forces,” Knausenberger said as she resorted to cinematic analogies. “We’re all ready for the next frontier, but many times we are stuck in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. We have all chosen the wrong cup when it comes to acquisition.”
Knausenberger said the Air Force needs to be able to pivot in buying capabilities. “We are entering a world of flat or declining budgets,” she noted. “The commercial world is spending more on their digital infrastructures because they know that future competitiveness depends on it.” Absent that capability, the Air Force must be able to procure new communications and information technologies wisely and rapidly.
The enterprise information technology structure that is coming together will provide the data that personnel need while helping build a data strategy, she said. Data will feed into an artificial intelligence stack. Ultimately, every airman and guardian will be able to write code with access to training-quality data.
With Cloud One, the Air Force hopes to have a “huge enterprise service” that personnel can use every day, she offered. All the public facing websites and the portal are hosted on Cloud One. Yet the Air Force still needs to ensure that people use the cloud effectively.
Some airmen tap the AWS cloud separately, and that needs to change. “We still have some work to do to say, ‘Hey, why aren’t these in Cloud One? How are we not meeting your needs today?’
“We should be able to go to the Cloud One website and click,” she said.
Part of this effort will be to simplify the information infrastructure. Too often, people use different means of seeking information where instead they should be able to do one-stop shopping, and this applies to support activities as well. “Our airmen and our guardians are having to innovate on things that have already been done over and over again,” she stated. “They’re having to rebuild software that already exists commercially; they’re rebuilding software that another unit also created—or maybe it's software that 10 different units created. They can’t always find each other.”
The new enterprise will allow access to the commercial tools needed. A mission app store also will serve airmen and guardians. And, Cloud One will do that for the nondevelopment community.
“For the last 10 years, we really haven’t been an enterprise,” Knausenberger maintained. “We’ve been groups of people that had to solve our problems independently. We value that … but what we really need to do is value that teamwork in working together.”