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The Future of Cloud at the DoD

Posted by Tim Hannon on Apr 4, 2019 8:26:04 PM

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, commonly referred to as FITARA, became law in December of 2014. The Act requires the heads of government agencies to ensure their chief information officers are significantly involved in each agency’s respective IT decisions, including planning, programming, budgeting, execution, reporting, management, governance, and oversight. Each year agencies are evaluated on their performance in meeting FITARA criteria. It is considered the ‘gold standard’ for Federal agency IT evaluations.

The Current Status of Cloud at the DoD

In the most recent FITARA scorecard ranking, the Department of Defense (DoD) received an overall grade of D+. While no agency came out with a perfect score, receiving a near failing grade of D+ was indeed a wakeup call for the Federal Government’s largest agency. As such, it’s important that the DoD’s office of the CIO, set a positive example. A D+ grade reflects a shallow bottom and small margins to get there. So, for the most part, there’s but a single direction – up. So, with ascension the most probable option, how are they doing? Are changes underway that will better position themselves as leaders in security, productivity, and innovation?

The DoD is no stranger to the idea of modernization, as demonstrated by its new plan to update its workforce, as well as its recently released cloud strategy, which touches on seven key focus areas:

  • Enable exponential growth in use of data
  • Scale for episodic nature of DoD mission
  • Proactively address cyber challenges
  • Enabling AI and data transparency
  • Extend edge support for Warfighter
  • Exploit cloud resiliency
  • Drive IT reform throughput the DoD

The strategy features a multi-vendor based enterprise cloud environment with general-purpose and fit-for-purpose cloud infrastructures. Per the cloud strategy document, “Cloud is a fundamental component of the global infrastructure that will empower the warfighter with data and is critical to maintaining our military’s technological advantage.”

The strategy also emphasizes the importance of the Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative (JEDI) cloud contract in the computing environment of the Pentagon, which seeks a modern enterprise cloud services solution that can support Unclassified, Secret, and Top Secret requirements (DoD release NR-049-18). Finally, regarding ‘Fit For Purpose’ clouds, the DoD clarified its focus on Software as a Service (SaaS) and the milCloud 2.0 environment, which is aimed at secure DoD applications.

One of the causes of delay in enacting the strategy is that not everyone at the DoD stands in agreement on the approach. According to Gregory Garcia, deputy CIO of the Army, he believes in taking “a more measured approach and checking off projects already in motion.” Conversely, Dr. Jeff Boleng, special assistant for software acquisition at DoD, “supports faster processes to push efforts forward.” Discord aside, DoD’s need to modernize is not up for debate.

What Does the Future Hold?

Ultimately, it’s not just the DoD that needs to modernize its cloud strategy – Federal agencies need to as well. Rep. Gerry Connolly, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s Government Operations Subcommittee, recently previewed three key areas of focus for the group: 1) Increasing telework for federal employees; 2) Codifying FedRAMP – which enables a marketplace-style solutions finding platform into law; 3) Strengthening the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act, which provides financial and technological expertise to agencies.

While the JEDI contract has garnered great attention for expressing interest in a single large industry partner, the DoD wants to work with industry across the board, ensuring that no one solution or technology in particular is used exclusively. It will be working with a number of industry partners to modernize cloud efforts and take initiatives to move its mission forward. The President’s recent Executive Order on maintaining American leadership in AI, echoes international modernization sentiments. The United States becomes the 18th country to issue such an order. Without a properly utilized cloud, AI becomes ineffective and many important applications begin to lag, with productivity close behind.

How Tech Data Can Help

The DoD isn’t the only organization that needs to focus on cloud strategies. In a tense political climate, protecting your organization’s security and ensuring its productivity, is about more than just being “safe” - it’s of national importance, with global implications. Tech Data’s team of government solutions experts can assist in moving your mission forward. Learn about our cloud solutions portfolio and follow us on LinkedIn to keep up with the latest IT developments.

About the Author

 HannonT_HS (002)-1Tim Hannon serves as vice president of Public Sector Solutions for Tech Data. In this role, he is responsible for providing strategic direction for technology and solution delivery into the U.S. public sector market, which also includes the management of Tech Data Government Solutions, LLC and oversight of this subsidiary’s U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) IT 70 contract, GS-35F-0349S.


Tags: Federal IT, Public Sector, Security Services, TDGS, FITARA, TDPS, DoD, MilCloud