How Software-as-a-Mission is Shaping the Future

Published: November 21, 2019

ARMYDEFENSEInformation Technology

Technology is ever growing and advancements are released almost as fast as a software can be implemented. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) helped Agencies and Companies alike quickly adapt to these changes without having to replace important functions that are in place. Taken a step further, Software-as-a-Mission (SaaM) allows the concept of SaaS to be applied to mission critical software to avoid these systems becoming outdated. The Department of the Army is proving the usefulness of the SaaM concept within their Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT) and providing a use case for other Agencies to follow their lead in implementing the idea of SaaM. The adoption of SaaM is proving effective in different aspects and displaying adaptability in the Department of the Army's EWPMT program time after time. 

Software-as-a-Service was an evolution in the process software procured by granting instantaneous updates through the cloud and subscriptions to the software services that Agencies or Companies may be utilizing. The real-time flexibility that Saas provides helped form concepts of how Agencies and Companies could apply these techniques on a broader scale. The idea of Software-as-a-Mission is expanding on SaaS by applying the flexibility to mission critical software throughout agencies. SaaM provides important software enhancements to avoid lapses in availability and provide an on-going suite of updates on different scales to remain fully effective. Refreshing the main overarching software or the software plug-ins that may be crucial for the overarching software to continue to proceed in a capable manner. More often than not, Agencies may have a mission critical software performing many different functions and SaaM helps alleviate difficulties in this task in a few different ways including standardizing the software, added security, and expanding overall growth to an agile environment.

Standardization among software tools that an Agency is utilizing is an on-going desire throughout many Government Departments. Providing the ability to harmonize a group of software tools for easy use by a single individual demonstrates the simplicity standardization offers. As new software is applied, under the idea of SaaM, these new programs would adhere and conform to the mission critical software. Allowing a single individual to easily understand and adapt to the modernization without having to learn an entirely new software system. As SaaS provided an answer to software quickly becoming a legacy system, SaaM would also force all the systems in the mission critical program to remain up-to-date and accessible. 

Security is a constant concern when adapting new software. SaaM has a possibility of providing a reduction in potential security risks. Outside access to multiple software programs would be limited to a single entry point. Since security of the single software program would be the primary focus, security for each individual plug-in software falls under the blanket protection. Incident identification is simplified with a singular software program as the entry point identification is limited for quick responses. SaaM would provide constant updates to the mission critical software, updates in security management and new security changes could easily be applied at a rapid pace. 

The adoption of SaaM will help lead the Agencies to lean more into creating an Agile environment. The Federal Government has mandated that software procurement and development efforts must drastically increase their effectiveness and efficiency and having an Agile environment as an on-going goal promotes growth and innovation. Along with the mandate, it has been a growing ambition for many Departments to find and apply easy to use solutions adding to overall efficiency. 

Although technology has been evolving rapidly for decades, there has yet to be a software developed that can control the electromagnetic spectrum giving the U.S military the situational awareness and competitive edge needed to carry out more strategic missions. Developed by Raytheon, Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT) is the first of its kind that will not only be able to bring situational awareness to Electronic Warfare Officer’s (EMO), but also allows them to access and assess battle damage and real time operations which will ultimately protect U.S. and allied forces on the battlefield. Having this advantage not only increases the changes of mission success but also minimizes casualties by allowing EMO’s to have a more comprehensive understanding of the environment to which their work allows them to make faster and more strategic decisions.

The Department of the Army (DOA) in the near future will start implementing EWPMT, which is expected to be rolled out to the entire force upon the completion of the final phase. According to C4ISRNET, EWPMT is broken down into four batches and each batch will provide additional improvements. For example, the latest batch will be known as the capability drop (CD3) which will use artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as a more open architecture to allow systems to ingest swaths of sensor data and, in turn, improve situational awareness.”

Innovation is at the forefront of not just the U.S military but enemy forces as well and as a result increases the priority to stay at the forefront of innovation. The constant and ever changing new threats warfighters face on the battlefield and in cyberspace is what may have initiated the ever-growing need for a software such as EWPMT. EWPMT will not only deliver multiple new and innovative capabilities, but will also help shape new ideas and technology moving forward. We can speculate that at some point in the future the USMC, DON and Air Force will adopt EWPMT or similar software that will work in unison; it is not just the Army working in synergy but rather all departments of the military. Being that these sort of capabilities have not existed, it’s hard to say what new innovative ideas will spawn from this and how it will effect electronic warfare in years to come, but one can presume that it will have a drastic effect on both U.S. and allied forces as well as U.S. adversaries.

Although CD3 is the latest incremental improvement, CD4 is not far off and is anticipated for some time in 2021. According to C4ISRNET, CD4 will “focus mainly on performance and streamlining the system and software itself.” Despite CD4 being a couple years away, we might see additional capability drops thereafter showing urgency in how innovation is now the key at overcoming new and upcoming threats.

In conclusion, it is very transparent for one to see how SaaS has assisted agencies and companies to become more efficient at adapting to new updates and software, while creating and promoting new ideas that have spawned into larger more innovative concepts such as SaaM. In addition, standardization and security updates are critical for mission centric software and SaaM provides potential conveniences to easily achieve and incorporate these needs into robust program software.  Benefits for Government Departments to move to an agile environment and striving for cutting edge innovation are aligned conjointly with the ideas of SaaM. Being that SaaM focuses on mission critical software, agencies such as the Army and possibly others in the future have access to software tools such as EWPMT. EWPMT is a clear display of the strength of possibilities SaaM presents while providing a great use case for other Departments to construct their future SaaM projects as an example. Software-as-a-Mission will likely be a term that many Agencies turn to in the coming years to ensure their mission critical software efforts are groundbreaking.