Defense board issues cloud recommendations, warnings

A Defense Department advisory board has issued a report making recommendations for DOD’s move to cloud computing and data center consolidation, among them suggestions to strengthen governance, to coordinate strategies better across the department and to act decisively.

The Defense Business Board’s report, dated Jan. 19, was presented in a recent meeting, during which board members advised that DOD improve its cloud efforts by making the DOD CIO “a strategic partner, not back-office support provider.”

The DBB found several instances of excessive spending on the department’s IT, including overspending that stems from long acquisition cycles; the maintenance of duplicative systems, networks and infrastructure; inefficient utilization of staff and servers; and untracked purchasing.

Pursuing IT efficiencies could save DOD between 25 and 50 percent on annual expenditures, while also improving mission effectiveness and achieving return on investment even ahead of schedule, according to the DBB. But before that can happen, the department has to refine its approach, including by strengthening leadership and governance, clarifying and integrating strategies and clearing legal and policy barriers.

For example, Title 10, the portion of U.S. Code that governs the military, establishes redundant authorities of DOD business systems and has unclear requirements over whether services must “own” their own data, according to the DBB.

Additionally, “federal acquisition regulations are out of synch with speed of technology change and evolving mission requirements,” the report stated.

The DBB recommends thorough standardization and a four-step, “aim before fire” approach that involves normalizing, standardizing and rationalizing applications; rationalizing and consolidating data centers; rationalizing data and security; and then migrating appropriate components to the cloud.

Still, the report urges caution in DOD’s ongoing efforts.

“Consolidation and cloud initiatives are already underway but may be inconsistent with goal to optimize at DOD enterprise level…[a] sequenced approach to migration will provide transparency, build confidence and reduce risk,” the report noted.

The DBB also recommends incentivizing the transition by rewarding success and encourages the use of pilot programs, according to the report.

Overall, the DBB reports readiness across the department for the transition to cloud.

“Interviews indicate wide support across DOD for [data center consolidation and cloud]. Cost savings and efficiency benefits are widely understood; budget imperatives create [an] environment for making major changes; early DOD initiatives [are] already showing positive results,” the DBB stated.

However, the board also warned of possible bumps in the road.

“Despite stated willingness to work together, passive resistance is likely. Required cultural and job changes will pose significant challenges; requests for exceptions will proliferate,” the report noted, adding that their survey found concerns about potential interruptions to mission capability and the migration process.

The DBB also urged definitive action, warning of dire consequences.

“Failure to act decisively is a decision, and the wrong one,” the board said. “DOD initiatives are already underway; independent and uncoordinated actions will increase barriers to coordination and information sharing. Costs will skyrocket and service levels will decrease given need to maintain legacy systems; future rationalization will be harder and more expensive. Security will fall further behind, leaving entire IT network increasingly vulnerable.”

For its report, the DBB did a comprehensive study that surveyed a huge range of defense IT, including:

  • 772+ data centers
  • 6,000+ locations; 15,000+ networks
  • 70,000+ servers; 3 million+ networked users
  • 7 million+ IT devices
  • 5,000+ applications
  • Approximately 90,000 full-time employees

The board interviewed numerous stakeholders in both the public and private sectors, including CIOs from the four services, the Defense Intelligence and Defense Logistics agencies, the Homeland Security Department, the DOD and federal CIOs, and top officials from DOD, DISA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Private sector companies that were consulted include Amazon, Chevron, Citigroup, Forrester Research, Gartner Group and IBM, among others.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group