May 29, 2018

What You Need to Know About DOD Cloud Adoption

By Stephanie Meloni, consultant, and Mark Wisinger, senior analyst

The Department of Defense may have been slow to embrace cloud, but it is totally committed to accelerating cloud adoption. As activity continues to surge across the DOD, we’ve recorded a webinar to unpack what’s going on at several key defense agencies.

Cloud promises great benefits. With high demand, it’s not surprising that the DOD is charging ahead. More and more cloud options are becoming available to DOD agencies, including the ability to run their infrastructure from a commercial cloud environment.

Here’s a preview of what we covered in the webinar:

At the DOD top-level, the Cloud Executive Steering Group is evaluating how the department can use the cloud in tactical environments and possibly procure a cloud service solution called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, though few specifics have emerged from the office.

Separate from this effort, the Defense Information Systems Agency is ahead of schedule when it comes to milCloud 2.0. The agency, along with CSRA (recently acquired by GDIT)—which won this contract last June—launched the milCloud 2.0 infrastructure in February. This will let DOD customers run their infrastructure from a commercial cloud environment.

Benefits of moving to the cloud include improved security and increased elasticity, which will lead to cost savings. Many DOD agencies are milCloud customers but may be forging their own plans for special projects.

The Defense Logistics Agency has a larger IT budget than most of the purple agencies, and cyber and cloud are at the top of its list. The agency has been using milCloud as its platform of service, functioning as the front end for AWS, Azure, Oracle, Salesforce, Service Now, SAP, Cisco and other cloud environments. DLA is one agency that seems to be committed to using cloud service providers beyond AWS in a commercial environment.

DLA also uses Army, SPAWAR and Defense Media for cloud services, so it is important to be aware of these environments when speaking to DLA customers. The agency is also looking at software-as-a-service more and more moving forward, so when speaking to customers about any new applications, note that it will need to play ball with as many cloud environments as possible.

Another DOD organization that’s making strides with the cloud is U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), which is the largest of the COCOMs aside from CYBERCOM. So far, TRANSCOM has been more entrenched in AWS’ cloud environment and has even been working with Defense Innovation Unit Experimental to pilot cloud migration of its logistical apps to the AWS SECRET environment. Security has historically been the biggest hold up for the DOD’s cloud efforts, so cybersecurity will continue to be at the forefront when it comes to cloud transitions.

Many agencies (including TRANSCOM’s DIUx initiative) have also started looking at ways to procure products and solutions outside the traditional acquisition process via Other Transaction Authorities. OTAs help agencies modernize IT systems and infrastructure, especially when it comes to cloud and cybersecurity. DISA also has been using OTAs where it can. Vendors should utilize OTAs when forming partnerships with academia, small business and non-traditional defense contractors.

Understanding customers’ security and infrastructure challenges will be important in any future conversations. Each cloud model and service provider will have its own unique problems, and it’s necessary to understand these challenges to be successful in helping them accomplish their mission. As more data and applications migrate to the cloud, vendors selling any type of solution will need to be aware of their cloud environments.

For more on the DOD’s cloud plans and key cybersecurity initiatives at DISA, DLA and TRANSCOM, view our on-demand webinar.

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This story originally appeared on immixGroup’s Government Sales Insider blog.