Pentagon CIO: U.K. a model on cloud adoption

Terry Halvorsen

Defense Department CIO Terry Halvorsen (above) says that the U.K. can serve as a model for how to integrate commercial cloud into government facilities. 

The British Ministry of Defense's embrace of cloud computing is a model the U.S. Defense Department would do well to emulate, according to DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen.

The British government's willingness to host commercial cloud services within government facilities is "the right way for us to go," Halvorsen said April 21 at an AFCEA conference in Washington.

Microsoft announced last November that the company would begin offering cloud services from the United Kingdom, with the firm saying those services would extend to government organizations.

Halvorsen has evangelized for the Pentagon to be more willing to allow cloud vendors to host sensitive DOD data. The Defense Information Systems Agency has, for example, granted IBM conditional authority to host unclassified but sensitive DOD data in the cloud at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in West Virginia.

Halvorsen also took stock of collaboration in the IT realm between Washington and its allies. In the coming weeks, he said he will travel to the UK to meet with his counterparts from that country, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The "Five Eyes" alliance is working on issues like identity management and synching data standards, the Pentagon IT chief added.

He sung the praises of Improbable, a London-based firm that ingests large volumes of data to run simulations. Both DOD and the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense are investing in Improbable, according to Halvorsen, who did not name a dollar figure.

Accreditation process 'completely sucks'

In his characteristically frank style, Halvorsen explained why he thought DOD needed to overhaul its accreditation and certification process for commercial IT products and services.

"We have an accreditation and certification process today that the technical term for is it completely sucks," he said. "It's costing you way too much money; it's costing us way too much time."

Halvorsen has tasked his advisers with reviewing the accreditation and certification process and recommending changes, with input from the private sector.

Halvorsen, who was previously CIO of the Department of Navy, also said in his April 21 remarks that he wanted to boost the number of DOD personnel who participant in a career exchange with industry. He would like about 50 DOD personnel to do a stint in the private sector in the coming year, and likewise bring about 50 IT hands from industry to the Pentagon.

Military officials, including U.S. Cyber Command Commander Adm. Michael Rogers, have consistently called for more flexibility in rotating personnel in and out of the private sector. The goal is to stay as attuned as possible to innovation happening outside of what Defense Secretary Ash Carter deprecatingly calls "our five-sided box."

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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