Army and IBM head to the cloud

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IBM has begun construction of a private, on-premises cloud at the Army's Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Ala., that will consolidate 11 existing data centers.

IBM won the $62 million project last fall through the Army Private Cloud II contract vehicle, and it includes a one-year base with four additional one-year options.

The program is the first of its kind for the Army as IBM will construct and manage the private cloud data center within an Army facility.

Jimmy Norcross, vice president of defense and intelligence for IBM, told FCW that in the initial phase, 38 applications will transition into the cloud, which will initially handle unclassified information at Defense Information Systems Agency’s Impact Level 5.

In the second year of the program, IBM will raise the security to IL6 to accommodate data on the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network.

"That will be the first time a commercial provider has ever done that," said Norcross, who added the Redstone project is similar in nature to a project IBM developed and is running at the Navy's Alleghany Ballistics Lab in Rocket Center, W.Va.

"The Army recognizes the advantages of a cloud-based computing environment, which include enhanced mission command, efficient data center consolidation, application rationalization, increased network security and improved interoperability with our mission partners," Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jesse Stalder told FCW.

"Working with our industry partners, [the Redstone cloud] will be managed by U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, and lessons learned will influence future on-premises cloud instantiations," he added.

"We see this as kind of the tip of the iceberg as where the government and DOD is going," said Norcross, who added that he expects IBM to take on more projects like this with the Defense Department.

Cloud migration and the consolidation of data centers are main pillars of the DOD's Joint Information Environment strategy. Outgoing DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen has stated that data center consolidation is behind schedule and remains a significant challenge for DOD, which is trying to get from thousands to hundreds of data centers.

Former Army Secretary Eric Fanning issued a lengthy directive on Dec. 9, 2016, that ordered the acceleration of migration to cloud computing and closure of data centers.

"The end state includes all enterprise systems and applications being approved, planned, resourced, and migrated to enterprise hosting environments no later than 30 September 2018, contingent upon the availability of enterprise hosting environments," states the memo.

The long-term plan is to consolidate to four Army enterprise data centers in the continental United States and six outside the U.S.

About the Author

Sean Carberry is a former FCW staff writer who focused on defense, cybersecurity and intelligence.


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