Aug 04 2014

U.S. Army's Big Bet on the Cloud Pays Off in the Classroom

Cloud computing is key to granting more soldiers access to education content on their personal mobile devices.

The U.S. Army may not be ready to let soldiers access a wide-range of military data on their personal smartphones and tablets, but that has not stopped officials from expanding bring-your-own-device [BYOD] use in key areas.

Today, soldiers who want to access training and educational content must do so using Windows-based devices, Helen Remily, with the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command [TRADOC], told the Army News Service.

“That means soldiers can't access much of the training and education content from home or other places when they're using non-Windows-based mobile devices,” said Remily, who serves as a capability manager for the Army Distributed Learning Program at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia.

How the Cloud Enables BYOD

Soldiers, like traditional consumers, have come to expect access to information on any device and from any location. And access to training content is especially critical as the force aims to effectively develop leaders in the midst of major downsizing.

After completing a 12-month proof of concept in December, TRADOC migrated non-sensitive, distributed learning content for the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to the commercial cloud, according to the Army News Service. Moving to the cloud plays a significant role in allowing soldiers to access content from their personal Apple, Android and other devices, Remily explained.

The project’s success has prompted the Army to migrate learning content from the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa., and the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., to the cloud. Other Army schools, including the Army Management Staff College, which oversees the military branch’s civilian education system, are also considering migrating learning content to a commercial cloud. The move will also make content accessible to students after graduation.

Benefits of the Cloud

Embracing cloud computing for hosting and disseminating learning content has produced savings for the Army and also will prove beneficial for the Office of the Army Chief Information Officer, G-6.

“Migrating content off of the Army's network automatically increases the operational network bandwidth because you don't have large packets of training and education information flowing back and forth across that network," Remily said.

“There's a lot of sensitive military occupational specialty-type training that won't go to the cloud,’ she said, “but in the future, it may be possible to do so as commercial cloud-computing has provisions for CAC-enabled authentication.”

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