The US Navy is using the cloud more to deliver software tools to ships faster


The US Navy’s shipboard network team wants to get software to sailors faster. To achieve this, he looks towards the cloud.

As part of the service’s afloat network, called Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services, the Navy wants to increase sailors’ access to software tools. To test the software and train sailors on the CANES infrastructure, the service turns to twin digital platforms that replicate the network infrastructure aboard a ship.

C4ISRNET recently discussed how the Navy’s CANES program uses the cloud for software development with Capt. Catherine Boehme, Program Manager for Tactical Networks in the Information Warfare Systems Command Program Executive Office of the C4I Navy and Space Systems.

Cloud for software development

Boehme’s team is shifting its software development efforts to the cloud as much as possible, reducing reliance on physical lab environments and enabling increased collaboration between dispersed teams.

“It increases our flexibility as we are able to set up development and test environments in a more agile way,” Boehme said.

The service uses the cloud to test the integration of software applications before installing them on a ship and uses digital twins that represent the Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carriers, she said. These computerized replicas allow for continuous development and integration, installation verification, troubleshooting assistance, configuration control, and virtual training opportunities.

NAVWAR is also using the cloud to test the applications that make up the Navy’s Information Warfare Platform, a collection of digital tools that will allow the service to install software on ships faster.

“The objective is to improve the performance, the maturity of the baseline, to reduce any anomalies or gaps on the baseline and therefore troubleshooting on the construction and therefore also to reduce the overall cost of the installation “, Boehme said.

For perspective, CANES’ budget for fiscal year 2021, all appropriations combined, is $505 million.

DevSecOps Pipeline

Boehme’s team recently completed initial operational capability of its new DevSecOps software pipeline that will deliver applications to warfighters aboard ships. Developers will use cloud-hosted environments to build, test, and deploy containerized software to ships without having to board a ship.

Build environments represent the CANES network afloat, so when the software is released the developers will have fixed as many bugs or potential issues as possible.

“From early development, through integration and testing, to the production afloat environment, the intent is to have a common baseline for all of these phases,” Boehme said.

“Then once it’s lit [the] afloat, our intention then is to continuously monitor the performance of the system and provide this feedback until the beginning of the cycle, under development and to be able to quickly remedy any… shortcomings, any improvements required, any new cyber vulnerabilities in a more fast and agile fashion,” Boehme said.

The USS Abraham Lincoln will be the first ship to benefit from it.

CANES training environment

The CANES Program Office is moving its system administrator training, called the CANES Training Virtual Environment, to the Amazon Web Services GovCloud, allowing NAVWAR to offer training for multiple CANES configurations while increasing access for sailors and students.

The Navy held prior training at two schools where the service had to pay for the upkeep and sustainment of the equipment the sailors trained on. Since the new formation is cloud-based, the service increases availability to eight locations.

“For each TVE [training virtual environment] instantiation, this sailor has his own network instantiation to learn how to operate, to troubleshoot, he is able to inject anomalies, and this sailor can then troubleshoot and has his own sandbox to exploit during… the course,” said Boehme.

The year to come

For the remainder of the year, Boehme wants to increase the digital representation of CANES networks in the cloud to bolster software development capabilities.

This would allow teams to create more applications, which could include command and control, combat management or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance programs.

“We strive to increase the number of applications developed in a cloud environment and leverage containers and microservices,” Boehme said.

Andrew Eversden covered all defense technologies for C4ISRNET. Previously, he reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for the Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporter for the Texas Tribune. He was also an intern in Washington for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.


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