The Army’s Plan To Move to the Cloud

By Frank R. Konkel

April 7, 2015

The U.S. Army is taking its information technology to the cloud.

At least, that’s the plan.

This month, the Army released a formal cloud computing strategy that aligns with thePentagon’s evolving policies and will position it to capitalize on disruptive commercial cloud computing technologies prevalent in the private sector.

In a blog post, Army Deputy Chief Information Officer Gary Wang said the transition “to cloud-based solutions and services advances the Army’s long-term objective to reduce our ownership, operation and sustainment of hardware and other commoditized IT.”

In other words, storing, processing and analyzing the growing amount of information the Defense Department produces in the cloud makes more sense than storing it internally nowadays.

Procuring these capabilities as services will allow the Army to focus resources more effectively to meet evolving mission needs,” Wang said. “Over time, this transition will increase IT operational efficiency, network security, and agility. It will improve interoperability with our mission partners and posture the Army to adopt innovative technology quicker and at lower cost.”

The Army’s move to the cloud won’t happen overnight, primarily because of concerns over security. The Army’s tactics mirror DOD’s cautious approach toward cloud computing, which has entailed numerous revisions to security requirements as pilot projects with a variety of cloud service providers provide new information.

The Army is also cognizant of the fact that fully using cloud computing on a scale large enough to serve its warfighters and directorates requires significant investment.

Outlining the strategy, Army CIO Robert Ferrell said the Army will make investments to improve “the capacity and security of network infrastructure and to modernize, prepare and migrate applications.”

In other words, the Army isn’t buying a monster turbocharger for theGeneral Lee without making the necessary upgrades to its chassis. The Army, though, is pretty high on cloud right now, having done early pilot work with vendors like Amazon Web Services and IBM.

The transition to cloud-based solutions and services will enable the Army to successfully provide the robust network necessary for our warfighters anytime, anywhere,” Ferrell said.

By Frank R. Konkel // Frank Konkel is Nextgov’s executive editor. He writes about the intersection of government and technology. Frank began covering tech in 2013 upon moving to the Washington, D.C. area after getting his start in journalism working at local and state issues at daily newspapers in his home state of Michigan. Frank was born and raised on a dairy farm and graduated from Michigan State University.

April 7, 2015