Army IT Agency pushes technology transformation

The Army IT Agency is pushing transformation in data center consolidation and unified communications.

The Army Information Technology Agency (ITA) may only represent one of the four military services, but it’s responsible for much of the IT operations in the Pentagon and nearby offices. Like the rest of the federal government, the Defense Department is taking measures to increase efficiencies in energy and spending, and the Army IT Agency is at the forefront of many of them.

One of the top priorities is complying with the federally mandated data center consolidation program.

“We’re an Army office, so we really need to understand the other parts of the Pentagon – it’s really one massive data center,” said Don Adcock, director of the IT agency. That means examining enterprise data life-cycle management and re-architecting server hosting – while keeping vital data moving and alive, a big part of the ITA's mission, he said.

Under the federal data center consolidation work, ITA is working to gain efficiencies by merging disparate data entities, according to Adcock.

“We’re a major data hub, so we’re a major player,” he said, adding that ITA will work as a host data center to achieve the efficiencies. “We’re saying, ‘Bring us your data, let us host and standardize and help gain those efficiencies,” Adcock said.

Another key part of realizing compliance will be keeping track of efficiencies gained, which is part of ITA’s “migrate, modernize, optimize,” or M2O, plan. “We’re still in transformation,” Adcock said. “We’re seeking opportunities to reduce duplication.”

Collapsing duplicate networks and capabilities is also part of the M2O plan. To support the shifting of Army headquarters to Fort Belvoir, Va., as required by the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC), ITA will collapse separate IT infrastructures located around the Washington area and bring those operations in-house under ITA management.

The agency also wants improve contracting and acquisition by merging redundant acquisition capabilities into a single ITA directorate for acquisition of full-spectrum IT, including hardware, software and services, Adcock said.

Those plans will take place in a phased approach, according to Adcock. It will be an iterative process taking place in increments, with tweaks between the increments, throughout the year, he said. That approach will allow for better planning and budgeting rather than doing everything at “crunch time,” on deadline, he said.

“This transformation is about baselining and building a foundation,” Adcock said. “It’s a process.”

ITA is also working to bring voice over IP into the Pentagon, and is approaching 100 percent, according to the director.

“It’s a hot issue,” Adcock noted. “We need unified communications,” whether it’s to support uninterrupted communication during BRAC movement or maintaining open lines with the theater.

“The movement between locations [under BRAC] is a major burden on our infrastructure,” he said. “It’s a juggling act, between needs and requirements and implementation needed to achieve unified communications.”

Those unified communications mean no network outages. “It needs to be a highly sophisticated and durable network to withstand outages,” Adcock said. “This is the most significant job on Earth – protecting the United States. We need redundant, secure, robust infrastructure to do that.”

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