WASHINGTON  — Using Apple’s iPhone application approval process as an example, the Army’s chief information officer said emulating industry could help speed up the development and approval of Army network applications.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, the Army’s CIO/G-6, spoke at an Industry Advisory Council and American Council for Technology meeting Nov. 24 in Arlington, Va.

Sorenson said the development of future Battle Command systems will improve dramatically as the Army standardizes its computing network and moves to emulate industry’s approach to developing and approving applications.

As an example of the current problem, Sorenson said it recently took six months for a new application to be tested, certified, and released for use in the Central Command area of operations.

In contrast, companies such as Apple Inc. have an approval process that certifies and releases new applications for the iPhone in a few weeks, he said.

Standardizing the operating environments will enable Army Battle Command systems to be developed in a secure, scalable, and open atmosphere that is capable of rapid technical insertion and supporting real-time, critical operations, Sorenson said. He emphasized that the end result will benefit the warfighter.

Standardizing Army hardware, operating systems, middleware, apps servers, portals, and data storage into a virtualized environment also offers potential cost savings, Sorenson pointed out. He said this is critical because funds for IT and development will substantially decrease as the Overseas Contingency Operations Supplemental Budgets end and the demand for increased command, control, communications and computers or C4 capability rises.

Savings accrue in a virtualized cloud computing environment because users only pay for the hardware, software, and services they use, which means unneeded resources no longer sit unused on government computers, Sorenson said. Additionally, he said this virtualized approach will enhance security and reliability because applications and data are standardized which leads to several hardware efficiencies and the ability to ‘build-in’ system redundancies.

The Army is at the beginning stage of this new approach for Battle Command system development, Sorenson said. An Army Acquisition Decision Memorandum to codify the operating environments and standardization tenets is under development. He said approval of the program is expected in the second quarter of fiscal year 2010.

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