Best of 2021 – US military to build software factory on VMware Tanzu


As we close 2021, at Container Journal we wanted to highlight the most popular articles of the year. This is the seventeenth in our Best of 2021 series.

The US Army Futures Command, in conjunction with VMware, is building a software factory in Austin, Texas, based on the Tanzu distribution of Kubernetes made available by VMware.

Ajay Patel, general manager of the modern applications business unit at VMware, says goal is for the US military to create the equivalent of a Silicon Valley software company within the military which will be composed of civilians and soldiers recruited from all over the world. . For each of the next five years, the US military will select 30 soldiers and civilians to participate in the program every six months.

The U.S. military, through this program, plans to increase the rate of software creation by adopting DevOps best practices to build cloud-native applications in collaboration with experts from VMware Tanzu Labs, Patel adds.

The Army Software Factory represents an evolution of an existing concept of a VMware-enabled government software factory that is used by other US agencies, Patel notes. Other agencies working with VMware Tanzu Labs to modernize application development and deployment include the US Space Force.

Much like many enterprise IT organizations that have adopted the concept of a software factory to accelerate application development and deployment, Patel states that the U.S. Army Futures Command recognizes that traditional waterfall-based approaches to creating some applications are too slow to meet its needs. Indeed, in the United States, the Army Futures Command will be at the forefront of companies’ digital transformation initiatives.

In fact, the United States Army, for all intents and purposes, is now another software company that just happens to be doing other things besides making application software. This “something else” employs millions of soldiers and civilians. Like any corporate IT organization, Patel says this change – in addition to creating a need for new tools and platforms – will also require significant cultural changes within the US military’s IT organizations. Each member of the software factory assigned by the US Army Futures Command will be associated with an expert from VMware Tanzu Labs to facilitate this transition.

It may take a little while for the U.S. military to become a true software company, but Patel notes that the program will also serve as a model for other military agencies around the world that continue to rely on processes and legacy platforms to build applications. Some of these military agencies are perhaps even more advanced towards using a software factory model than the US military.

Of course, as businesses adopt cloud-native platforms to build and deploy more flexible and resilient microservice-based applications, the need for a factory approach to building software becomes more evident. The challenge, of course, is twofold; The former allows developers to stay creative with this factory setting. The second is to find a way to manage a much more complex application portfolio that has many more dependencies than traditional monolithic applications. One way or another, the US military now seems ready to accept this new mission.


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