DOD says goodbye to its temporary teleworking platform used by millions
Written by Jackson Barnett
The Department of Defense will shut down its Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) environment at midnight on Tuesday, marking the transition to a higher security and long-term office productivity environment that employees will use in the office and at home.
The creation of CVR was a masterpiece by state standards. Millions of users were put online in just a few weeks when the March 2020 pandemic first sent a large part of the workforce home. CVR gave users access to Microsoft Teams and other basic collaboration tools. It was a distressed teleworking environment that is now being replaced by a more robust version of Office 365 called DOD365.
The new platform offers many of the same features as CVR with the ability to do work up to Impact Level 5 (IL 5), a jump from CVR’s maximum IL 2 data, and store documents in the OneDrive cloud.
“Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) getting up quickly marked a turning point in the way DoD addresses IT challenges and demonstrated the value of the close working relationships that have been built over the past few years,” said John Sherman, acting CIO FedScoop in a statement.
At its height, CVR had nearly 1.5 million users chatting, video calling, and exchanging documents through the system across the military. It brought new skills to the DOD workforce that were rarely able to work outside of military facilities until 2020. Since early 2021, DOD has been introducing users to DOD365 to ease the transition. It is unclear how many users there are now in the area. DOD also recently expanded the number of types of devices that can access the platform.
Part of what got CVR up and running so quickly was a teleworking task force of CIOs from the military that came together to increase resources for CVR. The task force was headed by then CIO Dana Deasy and met daily at the beginning of the pandemic, the DOD said at the time.
A small office in the DOD CIO’s office, the Cloud Computing Program Office, worked â24 hours a day, seven days a weekâ for the first two months to obtain the cloud storage space required to run the environment.
âIt’s Thursday that never ended because for us it was the day that never ended,â she said in December, telling the story of March for the first time.
CVR was not without its limitations. Only IL-2 work could be done on the system, and its capabilities were rudimentary compared to the full suite of tools many private sector companies offer. It also operated on a safety waiver for getting up so quickly.