Sep 16 2014

The Army Weighs Options for Migrating Apps to the Cloud

Except for enterprise resource planning and national security systems, many Army apps are ripe for approved commercial cloud environments, says the Army’s deputy CIO/G-6.

The Army is serious about tackling application sprawl and identifying systems that can move to government data centers and commercial cloud environments.

So far, the Army has identified 62 applications that are ideal for hosting in the cloud, said Michael Krieger, deputy CIO/G-6, following an AFCEA event Monday on the future of Army IT programs and priorities.

The service will move applications to the Defense Information Systems Agency’s milCloud or to commercial cloud vendors cleared to host the Army’s most sensitive data classified at levels five or six, Krieger told FedTech.

“The Army has got to make a decision,” he added, about what must be hosted in a government facility and what applications can be moved to level five or six commercial providers. “I think what you’re going to see is applications maybe moving to industry quicker than DISA just because of DISA’s throughput,” said Krieger, adding that he is monitoring four Army cloud pilots involving Amazon and IBM.

Krieger said he thinks enterprise resource planning and national security systems should remain in government data centers.

NSA’s Role in Defining DoD Cloud Standards

The Army is awaiting standards from the National Security Agency that can be used to define security requirements for cloud vendors looking to host sensitive controlled unclassified information and classified military data. Those standards are being defined for a joint DISA, Army and Air Force contract for unified communications, but Krieger sees the standards being used to secure other cloud-based applications as well.

The NSA’s standards will define the architecture that potential bidders must use for securing UC in a private cloud. UC services will include presence and awareness features, voice, video chat and desktop sharing. The expectation is that those standards will then be used to vet commercial vendors that want to host other Army applications, Krieger said.

Once standards are defined, the service will be able to coordinate with the Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems to create a blanket purchase agreement for approved cloud vendors, Krieger noted. PEO EIS is the Army’s broker, and it houses a program management office focused on supporting the Army’s application migrations. Apps that aren’t terminated will be modernized, virtualized or moved to the cloud.

We’re working on a common operating environment that will have a cloud computing environment inside of it,” said Douglas Wiltsie, program executive officer for Army EIS.

PEO EIS will provide the infrastructure and Platform as a Service for the Army. The service will be responsible for providing the app and the accompanying data warehouse.

“If we got to move thousands of applications, it’s the only way we know to make it simple and then also cost-effective because if everybody has to buy their own infrastructure and their own set of services, the license cost alone is going to kill us,” Wiltsie said. He noted that the Army will rely on companies such as Microsoft and Red Hat to provide Infrastructure as a Service, and his office will expand solutions offerings to ensure that competition is not limited.

“The intention is to use that across the Army and leverage it across the Army,” he said.

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