Navy embraces virtualization in the data center and for end points

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Two memos released by the Navy Department chief information officer in short succession show the department edging away from the dedicated machine model that's dominated computing for the past 4 decades.

In a July 29 memo (.pdf), DON CIO Terry Halvorsen says all Navy and Marine Corps servers should be virtualized by the end of fiscal 2017. Conversion should take place at a minimum rate of 15 percent per year, the memo adds. System owners can apply for a waiver, but no waiver can be permanent, the memo also says. Rather, they will be good for one year, and then "reconsidered during subsequent annual reviews." Virtualization increases utilization capacity by simulating, to various degrees, an individual hardware and operating system environment for multiple systems kept on a single server. In July 2012, the DON OCIO estimated that about 35 percent of server functions within the department's shoreside network were virtualized, keeping the number of servers to 4,000 total versus the more than 6,000 that would be necessary without virtualization.

An Aug. 2 memo (.pdf) continues in the virtualization vein by announcing a thin client pilot for up to 7,500 users under which desktop functionality won't reside on a local hard drive, but on a remote server reached through a network connection.

Halvorsen has touted thin client for years, although in the August memo he links increased thin client use to cost reduction pressures caused by sequestration. Current Navy shoreside thin client use is less than one-third of the 7,500 users Halvorsen says the pilot should serve. Seats eligible for a technical refresh under the Continuity of Services Contract--the seat management and network services contract that will likely remain in place through June 2014--will undergo a suitability analysis for thin client use, the memo says.

Teleworkers who have Pentagon-approved identity authentication software compatible with the common access card can use the desktop virtualization capability on their personally owned computers for access controlled unclassified information, the memo adds.

For more:
- download Halvorsen's July 29 memo (.pdf)
- download Halvorsen's Aug. 2 memo (.pdf)

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