Improving efficiency and innovating are ongoing missions for the U.S. Army, the largest and oldest branch of the U.S. military. The Army’s continuous adoption of new, digital technologies is part of its effort to realize these goals, along with another: cost-efficiency. Bringing modern commercial cloud capabilities such as Google Apps helps the Army to reduce IT costs, while giving troops access to always up to date, web tools for productivity, collaboration, and communication.
The Army’s rollout of Google Apps is part of a transformational program to improve collaboration, information sharing and mobile access for an initial group of 50,000 Army and Department of Defense (DoD) personnel. Leading the rollout is the Army Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS), which is responsible for providing infrastructure and information management systems to the entire U.S. Army. This includes enterprise-level IT services that enable secure end-to-end communication across the organization.
The accessibility of Google Apps from any device including thin clients was a primary driver for selecting Google. Mobile technology not only makes the Army more nimble, it is imperative for efficiency while personnel are in the field. Tablets are used by the Army for education and distance learning because they equip personnel with access to training materials anytime, anywhere. A soldier can review a lesson in Google Drive, complete an assignment with teammates in Google Docs, or attend a class via video Hangout, all from their tablet, smartphone or desktop. In addition, Army organizations can set up their own Google Play Private Channel for distributing mobile apps internally.
The 50,000 personnel who will have access to Google Apps can use text and video chat, as well as real-time document, slide, and spreadsheet co-authoring and editing. These capabilities are ideally suited for today’s modular teams and immediately scale to any number of Army units and users on demand. The Army anticipates rapid adoption of Google Apps because many Soldiers and Army personnel already use Google Apps in their personal lives. Gmail and Hangouts, for example, are popular ways to keep in touch with friends and family while deployed. Google Apps also enables seamless and high fidelity interoperability in their existing work environment with Google Quickoffice.
What’s more, Google Apps runs on multiple operating systems and browsers providing more device options, plus works with existing Army security policies and DoD directory and authentication services. Google’s completion of FISMA certification and accreditation gave the government a complete understanding of the security controls Google Apps has in place and how they meet the Army’s stringent criteria.
Consistent with the DoD’s better buying initiative, other DoD organizations can also benefit by buying off the Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) contract the Army instituted. We look forward to collaborating with the U.S. Army and DLT Solutions, a Google Apps Authorized Reseller, to make this project a success.