ShiftLeft Academy

New Arms War: Applications

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Interview with Nicolas M. Chaillan, Founder of Learn with Nic and formerly Air Force and Space Force Chief Software Officer who’s well-known for his Nic of Time YouTube Videos

In three years of working for the U.S. Air Force, Nic Chaillan stood up PlatformOne, a multi-cloud DevOps program supporting 100,000 developers writing battlefield programs for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Army. The platform includes more than a thousand hardened open-source programs (which he likens to Lego building blocks) shared between different branches of the armed forces and defense contractors serving these agencies.

“PlatformOne is our DevSecOps enabler to allow Navy, Army, and Air Force partners to build their systems, including connected weapons systems, with an agile frame of mind and to deliver capabilities into the hands of the warfighter multiple times a day rather than the three- to five-year cycles typically associated with updating government systems,” he explains.

He says this may put the U.S. back on a more even footing with China, which is already enabling its war-fighting capabilities through agile development, adding, “Innovation today is happening through software. Being able to embrace changes in digital transformation is the difference between winning and losing future battles.”

In this interview, he discusses the critical need for best-of-breed innovation between classified, air-gapped and edge applications, such as weapons carried in battlefield backpacks and space satellites.

“We can’t afford to waste time when China is leading development in these spaces,” he explains. “The new arms war is now in cyber. And a lot of it focuses on development.”

An early proponent of the Software Bill of Materials, he explains how his private-sector background enabled him to cut through government red tape and overcome the significant talent problem in government hiring and training programs associated with the rank and file. Now back in the private sector, he explains how DevOps training needs to be as agile as DevOps, no matter what sector developers are programming for.

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