The Marine Corps is starting to ramp up to deploy the Microsoft [MSFT] Windows 10 (WIN 10) operating system to the full Corps by January 2017 to match a February memo issued by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, the Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) said Wednesday.
The memo directed the Defense Department to complete a rapid deployment and transition to Windows 10, noting it will help improve the department’s cybersecurity posture and streamline the information technology operating environment.
“Implementing Windows 10 service-wide has been on our radar for some time. The compressed timeline just speeds up the process for full implementation, making us more secure sooner,” Michael Cirillo, cyber lead for MCSC, said in a statement.
The Marine Corps expects to upgrade over 50,000 devices in FY ’16 in this accelerated timeline
“This compresses almost three years of tech refresh into only six months,” Jeff Lee, product manager for Marine Corps Network and Infrastructure Services, added.
The ramp up includes challenges like adjusting the schedules of weapons, C2, and other programs of record to meet the mandate as well as how the increase in systems that will need to be completely replaced adds to systems already scheduled for replacement for this fiscal year.
MCSC considers many factors in how to make these kinds of upgrade decisions, the command said.
Since hardware and software constantly evolve, MCSC must determine which systems can be upgraded with a software update “pushed” to the end user and which must be replaced outright. It also considers different standards needed for tactical systems that are not regularly connected to the network compared to end-user computers that are part of the garrison network.
The MCSC used a 30-day pilot held last spring to identify the varying requirements. Held concurrently in four regions (East, Reserves, National Capital Region, and Marine Corps Headquarters), the pilot tested the MCSC-developed Windows 10 image.
“We targeted 500 clients (125 for each region). We deployed one Marine Corps Client Microsoft engineer and one MCSC engineer to each site, and they worked with the pilot groups to identify their varying needs and how to best address them,” Jeff Wiley, assistant product manager for engineering at MCNIS, said in a statement.
The Marine Corps will now use the pilot’s results to finalize the new Windows 10 software image for accreditation and develop checklists to facilitate replacement via accelerated tech refresh or upgrading existing WIN 10-capable computers.
After the MSCS identifies all of the variables and develops solutions, new systems will be fielded where needed. The Win10 software package is to be made available for deployment in the Corps’ Definitive Media Library, a secure library that protects and stores master copies of authorized media.
MSCS expects this process will put the Marine Corps well ahead of the forecasted 2020 end of support date for the Windows 7 operating system.