A Look Inside the Process of Upgrading to Windows 10 Agency-wide

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is responsible for identifying and overcoming the pressing logistical challenges of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). As part of this mission, the DLA is tasked with managing aviation demand and supply, handling disposition of excess property, delivering energy solutions, and managing the global supply chains that deliver equipment and solutions necessary for military efforts, among other responsibilities both in times of peace and war.

Despite working to overcome all of the most difficult logistical challenges facing our military, the DLA has its own internal logistical problems that it sometimes needs help to address. One of these recent problems was the organization’s upgrade to Windows 10.

A software upgrade to a newer operating system seems simple enough, but for an organization running legacy hardware and systems worldwide, this project can prove quite trying. In addition to the DoD’s strict mandates and requirements for any agency system changes, the DLA also faced the task of replacing old computers and other hardware around the globe in time to meet tight deadlines.

ARServices was one of the trusted partners that worked with the DLA to make this transition to Windows 10 a success. John Stanton, who leads all of the DLA programs on behalf of ARServices, recently discussed the challenges that faced the DLA, shared why a software upgrade was so essential for the agency and identified the role that ARServices played in making the project a success.

Here is what John had to say:

ARServices: Why is upgrading to Windows 10 a priority for the government? What were the potential ramifications for not completing this process in a timely fashion?

John Stanton: Windows 10 is the final piece of what is referred to as the “Modern Desktop.”

The DLA Modern Desktop is a collection of interrelated technologies, working together to provide the user with a workspace available through multiple access points, using the latest software and improved security. The Modern Desktop gives any DLA employee with a CAC reader a more stable and secure environment in which to do their work at any time, from any location.

The DLA was required to implement multiple new technologies via DOD and other federal government mandates. After careful assessment, the DLA determined these required technologies were dependent on each other and – in some cases – must be implemented in sequence rather than concurrently. Therefore, it made sense to plan for them collectively rather than independent efforts.

And it was imperative that these technologies were implemented in a timely fashion, since users would not be able to access the network with their Windows 7 devices should the deadline have been missed.

Then there’s the question of what happens should these systems not get updated or replaced. Outdated, legacy systems have been the target of significant cyber attacks and breaches in recent history – including the WannaCry ransomware attack.

By updating these legacy systems, we’re not just delivering new capabilities and flexibility to the DLA workforce; we’re protecting sensitive government information from malicious actors. The longer these systems were in use, the longer the government was vulnerable to cyber threats.

ARServices: Upgrading an operating system on computer seems like something relatively benign and simple for the average technology-obsessed American. Why is it a difficult process for a government agency?

John Stanton: It may seem benign – like a simple software upgrade was all that was necessary to meet requirements and mandates – but that wasn’t the case. Many DLA employees and contractors were using older model computers that did not meet the hardware specifications to support Windows 10 or the Modern Desktop.

To make the change to a new operating system and embrace the Modern Desktop, a computer replacement program was put into place to ensure all DLA users had the necessary hardware to support the upgrade. This required approximately 30,000 computers to be received by DLA from the manufacturer. Those computers then needed to be shipped to – and received by – DLA locations worldwide using various transportation methods.

As mentioned, the Modern Desktop is comprised of several technologies that are dependent on each other. Therefore, the technologies had to be released in sequence to ensure deployment success. The technologies that were implemented include: Archive Email / PST Ingestion, Software Center, * Microsoft Office 2016, Microsoft 365, H: Drive Consolidation, iPhone Deployment / Mobility, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Windows 10.

ARServices: What role did ARServices play in the DLA’s Windows 10 modernization initiative? Why was it important for the DLA to have an industry partner like ARServices there to help with this process?

John Stanton: ARServices provided asset management and logistical support for the approximately 30,000 computers that the DLA needed world-wide to ensure DLA employees and contractors had the hardware necessary for the Windows 10 upgrade.

ARServices employees assisted with the deployment of new computers and also the recovery and preparation of old equipment, ensuring all equipment was accurately tracked in the IT Asset Management database. ARServices has a skilled team of asset managers and logisticians that assisted our DLA client with a difficult task and a tight deadline. As told, ARServices was able to ensure that the DLA met that April 30 deadline and the requirements of the mandates.

ARServices: How did the DLA’s initiative play out? Was it a success?

John Stanton: DLA’s initiative was a success. New equipment was available at each location world-wide and the April 30, 2017 deadline for Windows 10 implementation was met. And DLA asset management, with the majority of the asset management effort led by ARServices, was given credit by DLA senior leadership for outstanding performance.

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