The Army Reserve is a unique entity within the Armed Services, both a component and a separate command. The Army Reserve’s specialized capabilities include medical expertise, aviation lift, search, rescue and extraction, sustainment (food, shelter and potable water), protection of key infrastructure, civil affairs, and public affairs, as well as the full spectrum of engineering capabilities. Today the Reserve has approximately 200,000 soldiers, serving in both the United States and around the world. Since 9/11, according to the Army Reserve website, over 300,000 Army Reserve soldiers have mobilized. The Reserve sends its soldiers to support missions across the globe, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Central America. The Office of the Chief, Army Reserve (OCAR) supports the Chief, Army Reserve (CAR) with functional advisors who develop and execute policies, plans, and programs, and administer Army Reserve personnel, operations, and funding. OCAR is comprised of specialized groups that advise the CAR on issues running the gamut from administration to IT.
One of the most significant challenges facing the Army Reserve is the need to distribute network access and software applications to its widely dispersed personnel. In the past, many Army Reserve personnel could not access specific applications unless they went to a physical Army Reserve location. This hindered productivity and meant that the Reserve had to provide devices to many people and support those devices in the field.
To support this important organization, OCAR has a team of IT specialists, network managers, and support personnel from a number of agencies. NetCentrics provides network operations, telecom support, help desk and desktop support, database management, graphics support, logistics, and application support. To address the challenge of distributed network access, NetCentrics gathered, analyzed, and validated OCAR’s technical requirements and determined a solution to cut licensing costs, simplify IT processes, improve availability, and enhance cybersecurity. NetCentrics’ Army Reserve team built and now manages a Citrix XenApp environment to provide a secure and scalable application delivery solution which also allows Army Reserve staff to access applications remotely. Using Citrix XenApp, OCAR has gained more secure and more distributed access to important data and applications in almost any region of the globe.
Benefits and Impact
Citrix XenApp is a virtual application delivery solution that provides Windows applications to users on any device, anywhere, significantly reducing the number of software licenses required as well as the number of laptops that must be purchased and maintained, while also reducing the risk of data loss and cyber intrusion. The OCAR Citrix solution has over 600 concurrent user licenses and can scale to over 40,000 unique users and currently delivers 16 virtual applications (such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, etc.) to any Army Reserve user with a Windows CAC-enabled device on any internet-connected network. This solution reduces IT costs by centralizing applications in the datacenter, eliminating the need for laptops and software for Army Reserve users, and uses a pay as you grow technology – bringing scalability through the purchase of additional licenses rather than requiring the replacement of hardware. As of April 2016, more than 3,500 Army Reserve users have logged into Citrix to do work that, prior to the installation of Citrix XenApp, would have required the user to go to an Army Reserve location. The new Citrix application has tremendous benefits in terms of cost savings, security, and support: Cost savings:
- Reduces the number of laptops to be purchased
- Reduces the number of software licenses
- Reduces shipping costs for laptops that have to be repaired or reimaged
- Allows users to connect with non-DOD owned equipment
- Reduces TDY cost by allowing technicians to provide assistance remotely
- Allows for remote access
- Uses concurrent licenses
- Uses FIPS 140-2
- Secures data stays on the Army Reserve network
- Delivers applications through a secure window
- Prevents access to client’s local drive
- Prevents copy and paste from Citrix session to client machine
- Process commands in Citrix environment, not on client machine
- Reduces the number of PCs in the field
- Reduces the range of software applications on remote devices that must be maintained
- Provides a standard interface to many applications that users regularly use
With this Citrix deployment to more than 40,000 users with up to 620 concurrent connections, OCAR will join the many other DoD agencies and military branches that have come to rely on Citrix for standardized desktop application virtualization, including HQDA, DODIG, and the National Guard. NetCentrics is currently building and testing a new environment for OCAR that will extend access to users of MAC, iOS, Android, and Linux devices and anticipates deploying the new environment in place of the current one by the end of May 2016.