U.S. Department of Defense Enters the Cloud to Cut Costs

Analysis from Frost & Sullivan’s recent survey suggests that the Department of Defense(DoD) will look more towards cloud computing as a solution to training and running operations. On-demand information and resource sharing makes cloud computing a viable solution to the increasing need for increased collaboration to run counter-insurgency operations and training programs.

The high costs of operating, securing and maintaining a large variety of often redundant legacy stove-piped networks has steered the U.S. Department of Defense toward mature commercial off-the-shelf technology. Cloud computing will enable the DoD to share servers, storage devices and applications to save resources and time. The military can maximize the potential of network-centric warfare and enhance collaboration by using commercially successful service-oriented architectures to provide software and applications within a private cloud.

The Department of Defense Chief Information Officer Teresa M. Takai has outlined a 10 Point Plan for IT Modernization that targets the most pressing, near-term challenges and presents approaches to efficiently and effectively deliver agile, secure, integrated, and responsive IT capabilities. This plan will enable the DoD to reduce costs and deliver faster, more responsive capabilities, while improving interoperability, user satisfaction, cyber security, and, ultimately, mission success. The primary goal is to enable agile, secure, efficient and effective IT for DoD.

DoD CIO’s 10-Point Plan for IT Modernization

DoD CIO’s 10-Point Plan for IT Modernization puts focus on three major areas; platform: IT consolidation, processes: streamline delivery of IT capabilities, and workforce: strengthen IT community.

  1. Consolidate enterprise networks
  2. Deliver DoD Enterprise Cloud
  3. Standardize IT platforms
  4. Enable Agile IT
  5. Strengthen IT governance
  6. Strategic sourcing for IT commodities
  7. Strengthen Cyber Security
  8. Streamline Compliance Processes
  9. Improve Enterprise Architecture
  10. Modernize IT guidance, training

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan’s team of Aerospace & Defense industry experts, finds that the DoD’s cloud spending will grow from $676 million in 2011 to reach $740 million in 2016 at a compound annual growth rate of 3 percent.

Operational imperatives are also driving the Department of Defense toward cloud computing because of the unconventional nature of counter-insurgency and counter-terror warfare. Secure and seamless data sharing across different platforms gives warfighters a powerful operational and training resource.

“Industry standards-based clouds can enable the DoD to permanently eliminate the IT generational gap between legacy and state-of-the-art commercial technology,” said Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Brad Curran. “In addition, clouds will cut response time and simplify engineering, integration and training while lowering costs and allowing the DoD to commoditize many parts of network security.”

Mature, commercial cloud technologies have been used in lots of segments of the military due to their benefits of cost savings, faster fielding times, and ease of upgrades. Nevertheless, as military networks become more dependent on network collaboration, cyber assaults have quickly increased in numbers and sophistication. Additionally, cloud computing systems open to the commercial Internet are more vulnerable to hackers.

Closed intranets with higher levels of security are much safer, but the DoD’s recent negative experiences with WikiLeaks and foreign hacking highlight the necessity of solid security. Until standardized architectures are more widely employed and the DoD is confident that services and data available through cloud computing are secure, cloud computing is unlikely to experience widespread implementation.

“Specific cloud programs and contracts will remain rare, but existing programs will continue to be modified to meet the requirement to maximize cloud computing technologies,” said Curran. “This will allow them to be applied to the existing networks till 2017, when the cost and operational benefits will become apparent and upgrades and integration will be faster and cheaper.”

However, the Department of Defense’s mandate to migrate to IP6 is incomplete and behind schedule. Moreover, there are a lot of structural limitations to proprietary networks. Cloud computing’s inherent cost advantages will be offset by its attendant cultural and security requirements. In such a scenario, technologies and services that be sure reliable network and cloud security are expected to demonstrate speedy growth. The Department of Defense will lay emphasis on sophisticated networking systems that can be upgraded as newer technologies appear.

Story Highlights:
  • Analysis of the U.S. Department of Defense Cloud Computing Market is part of the Defense Growth Partnership Services program, which also includes research in the following markets: commercial aviation, military aviation, homeland security, and the DoD budget.

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