Soldiers and civilian personnel will no longer have to rely on government-issued desktop computers to access their work as the US Army recently rolled out its virtualized desktop capability powered by Microsoft Azure’s Virtual Desktop technology.
This capability allows users to access their work via their personal laptops or desktop computers outside the office as both desktops and applications are deployed through the cloud.
This makes the Army the third branch of the US Armed Forces to go virtual, as the National Guard and the Reserve Corps have been using virtual desktops for nearly two months as of press time.
For his part, the Army’s chief information officer Raj Iyer admits that while the infrastructure is ready to go, he hopes to discover how different groups within the Army use the new virtual desktop.
The implementation of virtual desktop capabilities is a step towards enabling US warfighters to access vital data from any device anywhere in the world. Having the organization’s data in the cloud is one thing, but if the Army is able to leverage commercial transport to transmit it anywhere, then it should also allow any device access to it.
According to Iyer, no one is being forced to use it, but he wants to see people to check it out and see whether or not it works for them. He added that adapting to the new setup will depend on whether one is a civilian or a soldier on active duty. In which case, he encouraged everyone to test it, see how it works for themselves, identify issues, and make relevant notes on how these may best be addressed.
Iyer added that the bulk of Army users are expected to be migrated to virtual desktops by the end of this year.
Beyond the Conventional Desktop
At press time, the US Army is in the process of testing other technologies that will allow both soldiers and civilian employees to use their own mobile phones and other personal devices to access government systems.
This is still part of the Bring Your Own Device solution that the Armed Forces initially implemented with the National Guard and the Reserve Corps back in 2021.
Another key development is the rollout of Google Workspace solutions for over 250,000 users throughout the Army. According to Iyer, Army authorities are assessing how well employees use the virtualized Army365 solution when paired with Google Workspace tools that may be accessed through their personal laptops.
Iyer is of the opinion that both Army365 and Google Workspace are now part of the Army work situation. Moving forward, however, he says that it is necessary to keep tabs on who is using which specific tools and the Army needs to make sure that there is a definite level of resiliency involved.