DOD Cisco Collaboration Tools for Teams Are Evolving



DISA may have delivered new DOD collaboration tools for teams at a record pace, but the Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) environment certainly caused some confusion and difficulty along the way. The pre-COVID soldier with a bulky mobile unit to communicate, in-person conference room meetings, and face-to-face mission critical discussions over hundreds of phone lines changed overnight. The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic exposed an area that has never been put to the test in our military and civilian workforce. Thousands of active duty and civilian base personnel were forced to work remote. Multiple collaboration tools needed to be implemented at record speed to maintain base and mission readiness. The country was under attack and action needed to take place yesterday.

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Common Issues for CVR Environment Users

There are 4 common problem areas with the rapid roll-out of the DOD remote work response CVR Environment:

  • Access
  • Product Features
  • Security
  • Usage

Urgency was needed and immediate action would certainly create problems. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) deployed a temporary DoD-only deployment of Microsoft Teams and other Office 365 tools, dubbed the Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) environment; it’s part of a wider effort to ramp up telework capabilities across various U.S. government agencies and military forces.


One such issue that base infrastructure teams experienced was land lines and voice mail need to be forwarded by base personnel to staff home, cell phones or mobile devices.

It was realized that when call forward was enabled that many individuals did not receive their messages. The discovery was soon made that call forwarding needed two phone lines, one line in for each base extension and one line out. They did not have enough phone lines to accomplish this task leaving many personnel without messages getting to them.


Many remote personnel were forced to work using new software such as Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Teams to conduct meetings. This is an unusual move by the DoD, where all software is subject to strict security standards.

The CVR user log-on guide explains how to access the environment. Unfortunately, there have been challenges regarding NIPR and SIPR network connections and utilization of CAC access.

As part of this initial initiative, DoD employees can now access the CVR Teams environment via Microsoft Office 365 in the Government Commercial Cloud for chat, video and document collaboration. Unlike existing deployments of Teams in the DoD, the CVR Teams environment will be available on personal and mobile devices and on commercial networks, though the department has restricted what information can be shared.


According to ComputerWorld, the CVR Teams will be distinct from other implementations of Office 365 within the DoD. CVR appears to be configured to treat every user’s device as an unmanaged device. One drawback from this is that although CVR is a good introduction to Teams, its limits on the use of the full Office 365 desktop apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) to edit and co-edit documents is less than ideal. The web versions are far less robust than their desktop versions.

The initial CVR Teams deployment, however, is only expected to be available for six months, after which data created within it will be permanently deleted and sanitized; the CHES Teams is permanent. In addition, CVR Teams users will not be able to access other instances of Teams across the DoD network. This could create some challenges for workers that want to access both.

Working in both CVR and DoD Office teams will have some difficulties working simultaneously in both because the Teams desktop client can only be logged in to one tenant at a time. Working with multiple tenants is a challenge that even the most technically savvy users find difficult to deal with.One common workaround is to login to one of the tenants using the Teams client and the other using a web browser, he said, either in incognito mode or using a browser profile.


Though the use of Teams could raise security concerns, the DoD has measures to protect data. The limitations they’ve place on file sharing (web-only) and the constraints around DoD Office 365 tenants will go a long way to mitigate these concerns. However, as with all information systems, users will be critical to maintaining security.

The DoD has also offered up advice to users on how to protect data and what information is suitable to share. While the scale of the roll-out may differ from what most IT teams will experience, the biggest challenge with the CVR Teams move - as with any large organization rapidly deploying Teams - is not technical. Rather, it is getting workers to use team channels. It is crucial to ensure that DoD staffers are prepared to adapt to a new way of working that relies on channels for communication rather than email. Channels are a huge change to how people work. If DoD workgroups continue using Teams like they do email or instant messaging, then they will see limited benefit or may give up altogether.

The Good News About DOD Collaboration Tools

The good news is the DoD workforce has now successfully worked remote and gained confidence in the new tools. Military IT professionals have successfully demonstrated, adapted, and overcome an unprecedented technological challenge. The DoD are buzzing with personnel interacting face to face (six feet apart) yet visible to each other. We are now all connected with collaboration tools to perform daily tasks.


As you know, today’s battlefield contains quickly evolving threats that require the need for innovative technologies to confront them. This includes secure and effective, real-time, video and information sharing solutions. But you must be able to quickly and fully integrate them into existing network infrastructure. Connecting the battlefield with real-time communications solutions, especially video, is becoming a critical part of our military's success.

While these common issues listed above are still being addressed, one will continue to evolve and grow the network – SIPRNet vs NIPRNet and bandwidth. The IT, Networking, and Information Intelligence will need to be trained on collaboration. This means Video Tele-Conference (VTC),Voice Over IP (VoIP), Big Data, Routers and Switches, Fiber Optics, and Mobile devices and most of all Security.

NHDoD government training solutions offers Cisco training to get your department understand how to deploy, administer, and implement modern Cisco solutions for the remote work environment. Recommended Cisco training courses are:

  • Administering Cisco Unified Communications Manager v12.x (ACUCM)
  • Implementing Cisco IP Telephony & Video, Part 1 (CIPTV1)
  • Implementing Cisco Video Network Devices, v.1.0, Part 1 and Part 2 (CIVND)
  • Implementing and Operating Cisco Collaboration Core Technologies (CLCOR)
  • Implementing Cisco Collaboration Applications (CLICA)
  • Deploying Cloud Connect Solutions with Cisco Cloud Services Router 1000V (CLDCSR)
  • Implementing Cisco Collaboration Cloud and Edge Solutions (CLCEI)
  • Implementing Automation for Cisco Collaboration Solutions (CLAUI)
  • WLFNDU – New Cisco Wireless Fundamentals Class - this course replaces the WIFUND course
  • IPv6 Fundamentals, Design, and Deployment (IP6FD v3.0)
  • Implementing Cisco Cybersecurity Operations (SECOPS)
  • ENWLSI Implementing Cisco Enterprise Wireless Networks
  • Implementing Cisco Enterprise Advanced Routing and Services v1.0 (ENARSI)
  • Communications Manager Administration (Call Manager)

If you have questions about finding the best Cisco certification path, contact us to discuss your needs.


Although it was deployed in record time, there are workshops available for both end users and administrators to understand the latest implementation of Microsoft Teams. Training on how to use the tools like O365 and Teams is offered by NHDoD government training solutions. The theater to conduct business has changed and the battlefield has additional tools and we have proven that we are capable.

Sample a free course demo of how to use Microsoft Teams here or learn about the Microsoft Teams Administrator Associate certificate review in this free webinar. Recommended Microsoft collaboration training courses are:

  • Prepare for a Teams deployment with Microsoft 365
  • Enabling Microsoft Teams for Collaboration - Course MS-300T03-A
  • Microsoft 365 Modern Desktop Administrator
  • Deploying the Modern Desktop - Course MD-101T01-A
  • Managing Modern Desktops and Devices - Course MD-101T02-A
  • Managing Microsoft 365 Identity and Access - Course MS-500T01-A
  • Implementing Microsoft 365 Threat Protection - Course MS-500T02-A
  • Implementing Microsoft 365 Information Protection - Course MS-500T03-A

For it is on the battlefield that the lives of our military personnel can change in a flash. So for them, there is great comfort and reassurance in communicating face-to-face when making potentially life-changing decisions. And it is during that single moment of human contact, despite the distance, that the value of Next Generation Collaboration truly shines.

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Jun 2020

By: William Jordan