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Platform One: The Future of Continuous Software Delivery

“The objective of Platform One is to help focus on the mission. Across the Air Force and Defense mission, we always need to walk the knife-edge—balancing agility and security. And with Platform One, we’re now positioned across the enterprise to accelerate mission needs with common services and best practices ranging from DevSecOps pipelines to continuous security authorizations.”

The Challenge: Accelerate Software Innovation for Mission Safety & Success

To elevate mission support in environments where every minute is a luxury, the Air Force set out to fundamentally reimagine its approach to software delivery and serve as a model for the rest of DoD. Leadership recognized several key barriers to rapid deployment, including:

  • Verticalized acquisitions and demand for bespoke solutions despite common needs, delivery pipelines, and practices across the enterprise.
  • Proprietary and closed technology systems that require custom software and time-intensive deployments.
  • Repetitive processes for software delivery that are carried out separately and manually by individual teams navigating the platform, pipeline, and security gates for each project.  

To accelerate capabilities for an ever-evolving mission, Air Force and DoD leadership had a vision: for enterprise software services to be open, vendor agnostic, scalable, and interoperable—with continuous delivery and comprehensive security. They needed a bold solution that would allow the Air Force to take full control of its infrastructure, embrace open architecture across the organization, and collaborate in entirely new ways with industry partners. Platform One was conceived to pioneer that vision for the Air Force and transform the software delivery model across the DoD.

The Approach: An Enterprise-Scale DevSecOps Platform & Pipeline

To reimagine software development at scale, the DoD Chief Information Officer and the Air Force Chief Software Officer partnered to lead the DoD Enterprise DevSecOps Initiative (DSOP). This initiative provides DevSecOps training, standardized protocols, and managed service capabilities to mobilize a new era of DoD software delivery—marked by advanced automation, continuous security, and extreme flexibility in mission systems.

Platform One was designated as DSOP’s DevSecOps and managed services and capability—and the first DevSecOps enterprise-level service in the Federal Government. To expedite the ambitious vision for DSOP and ensure long-term flexibility for the integration of new DevSecOps tools and services, the program needed an alternative to the traditional acquisition model with industry partners. The Air Force Chief Software Officer issued a Basic Ordering Agreement with select vendors to significantly reduce acquisition lead time, rapidly support software DevSecOps services, and provide maximum flexibility to meet evolving mission needs.

Booz Allen was onboarded via this agreement in January 2020 as a plank owner to deliver enterprise DevSecOps services under Platform One. Along with several other onboarded technology partners, our team was able to hit the ground running, providing technical expertise in aerospace, software delivery, program management, cybersecurity, and operations.

From its origins, Platform One set out to:

  • Reimagine DevSecOps with an enterprise mindset, to standardize acquisition, policies, and platforms—empowering developers with shared services that are common across projects, so they can focus on delivering custom mission applications at the speed of relevance.
  • Accelerate an open and modular infrastructure, enabling rapid, more automated modernization of combat and mission systems—without being locked into any vendor or infrastructure.
  • Automate significant aspects of delivery, eliminating repeatable processes in favor of infrastructure as code for deployment of DevSecOps environments onto various classification levels.

Now, under DSOP and with Booz Allen as partner, Platform One represents the future of open architecture services across the DoD.

The Solution: Fast-Track Application Production with Platform One

Platform One is the enterprise engine behind modern software development in the Air Force, powering global mission capabilities with quick and iterative release cycles—critical for advancing programs like the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) and to support Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2). From deploying artificial intelligence to installing critical software updates from “cloud to jet,” Platform One is ensuring access to data and support when people need it most. With sensors and edge devices on the field and in the air, the Air Force can now easily control and target modular, secure, and iterative upgrades.

As a DevSecOps-as-a-service environment with DoD-wide reciprocity, Platform One jumpstarts software development with ready-made platforms and infrastructures. Developers no longer need to spend resources navigating the infrastructure, pipeline, or security of a project—but can focus on building high-value mission applications that can fast-track to production.

“To elevate mission support in environments where every minute is a luxury, the Air Force set out to disrupt and fundamentally reimagine the DoD’s approach to software delivery. Platform One is a multidimensional change initiative—from technology to culture and policy—that accelerates the delivery of artificial intelligence and critical software upgrades from cloud to jet.”

Booz Allen is integral in delivering and maturing all phases of Platform One capability development and operations, including technical leadership across the following key products:  

  • Iron Bank: This official DoD repository includes more than 550 reusable containers that are approved and hardened for reciprocity across the department. As the technical anchor, Booz Allen ensures these container images are ready to “plug and play” so developers can execute quickly into production. In 2020, Booz Allen also directly contributed to the repository. The container images that make up the Solutions Delivery Platform—our DevSecOps accelerator—were approved and included in the Iron Bank for DoD-wide use.
  • Party Bus: Teams can run their applications on the Party Bus, which is a shared multi-tenant environment that provides continuous integration, continuous delivery, along with enterprise tools and capabilities for development, testing, and production.
  • Big Bang: For more customized needs, developers can turn to Big Bang for Infrastructure as Code and Configuration as Code that the Platform One team manages so users can automate the deployment of full DevSecOps environments onto various classification levels.

Ultimately, security is the gateway to innovation in the DoD. Beyond the technical implementation of Platform One, Booz Allen is the Information Systems Security Manager (ISSM), responsible for assessing the risk across all products and services in partnership with the Platform One team. In this capacity, our cybersecurity experts and engineers are helping transform longstanding cyber practices and policies so that the DoD can adapt to a true DevSecOps model, where capabilities can be fielded quickly through continuous delivery.

With Booz Allen as a partner, Platform One established and adopted a continuous authority to operate (cATO), giving individual teams the ability to experiment and rapidly release software while avoiding lengthy and unnecessary security sign-off gates. Given the real impact of security on service members and their safety, cATO ensures that proactive zero-trust security is baked in from the first source code to the end user. The result of this advanced risk posture is that the Air Force can deploy capabilities quickly, embrace fail-fast learning, and ultimately build stronger products—with confidence that security and compliance are continuous, automated, and comprehensive across the technology environment.

A Foundation for Open Architecture & Software Delivery Across the DoD

Platform One—enabling software containerization, flexibility, and scale—changes the game for service members on the frontlines. This new approach significantly reduces the time needed to make critical updates and deploy new capabilities at the speed of relevance, impacting programs that include the F-35 Joint Program Office, the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) Joint Common Foundation, and the Cyber Command.

As a plank owner Booz Allen is honored to help propel Platform One, a testament to the Air Force’s culture of rapid innovation and its ability to transform at speed when the mission is at stake. This new model is the foundation for open architecture and software delivery across the Department of Defense—demonstrating the impact of automation, managed DevSecOps services, and cultural transformation. As more DoD programs adopt its capabilities, Platform One will further enhance the relevancy of mission systems and continue transforming the experience of those serving around the world.

Access more information about the Air Force DevSecOps initiative and Platform One.