Gone are the days of “waterfall” development, where software floated downstream from a room full of code jockeys to users who received applications that were often obsolete by the time they arrived.
The new software factories are instead “really comprehensive platforms for next-generation IT systems — weapons systems, artificial intelligence environments that allow us to continually update capabilities,” says Robert Vietmeyer, director for cloud and software modernization for the Pentagon’s CIO office.
Vietmeyer explains that the Pentagon formerly made software vendors gamble on the delivery of end products.
“But that didn’t really outsource risk,” he says. “It’s a failed notion. We really need to be much more involved, from early development to deployment.”
There are about 30 software factories across the military services, according to Vietmeyer. All are under DOD operational control, and most are funded through branch budgets.
What Is the Air Force’s Platform One?
Platform One, or P1, is composed of active duty Air Force military personnel, government civilian employees and contractors, with approximately 220 individuals in total. It merges top talent from across the Air Force’s software development shops, including Kessel Run, Kobayashi Maru, SpaceCAMP and the Unified Platform.
“P1 provides modern, secure, software development, security and operations (DevSecOps) tools and environments that help organizations focus their efforts on building, running and continuously improving their software applications,” says Lt. Col. Brian Viola, materiel leader for Platform One.
“By building and operating on top of a common, secure foundation provided by Platform One, organizations avoid the time and cost of replicating all the resources needed to provide the same level of features and security.”
The cloud-based factory provides tooling, hosts continuous integration/continuous delivery DevSecOps pipelines, and offers a secure Kubernetes platform for hosting microservices.
It also created the Iron Bank repository of digitally signed container images, including open-source and commercial off-the-shelf software, hardened to DOD specifications. Iron Bank containers are shared across the military services.