Lt. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, chief information officer, G-6, speaks at the AFCEA Army Signal Conference in Springfield, Va., March 6, 2018. 

Mar 26 2019

Army Plans New Cloud Push This Spring

The Army will leverage the Defense Department’s wider cloud strategy and stand up a cloud program office.

The Army is getting more serious about the cloud. 

Earlier this month, Army CIO Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford said the service branch would establish a cloud program office within the next 90 days. The Army also plans to build upon the Defense Department’s broader cloud strategy, according to Crawford.

“The Army remains in-sync with the DOD’s enterprise cloud efforts,” Crawford said at the Association of the United States Army's March 5 breakfast event, according to FedScoop. “Our near-term focus is posturing ourselves to leverage general-purpose and fit-for-purpose cloud hosting capabilities.”

He added: “So there are some things we’ve got to do in the Army to set conditions to be able to properly leverage cloud hosting capabilities.”

The DOD’s cloud strategy indicates the Pentagon will be using multiple clouds; it also makes clear that the chief cloud the department will use will be its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure architecture. JEDI is a controversial commercial cloud contract that could be worth up to $10 billion over 10 years, and which the DOD still has not awarded. The agency plans to do so to a single cloud provider. 

DOD calls JEDI a “general purpose” cloud for Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service, which sits at the top of its hierarchy. It is followed by the DOD's MilCloud, as well as “fit for purpose” clouds built for specific mission needs. The strategy says DOD will use JEDI for “the majority of systems and applications” and that it will allow for the agency “to take advantage of economies of scale, broadly provide common core services, and ensure information superiority through data aggregation and analysis.”

“Only when mission needs cannot be supported by General Purpose will Fit for Purpose alternatives be explored,” the strategy states. “In such a case, a mission owner will be required to submit for approval an Exception Brief to the Office of the DoD CIO describing the capability and why the General Purpose cloud service does not support their mission.”

MORE FROM FEDTECH: Find out how fog computing can help your agency. 

Army to Explore New Cloud Contracts in 2019

The Army plans to issue two contracts that will “provide the managed services required to get us to the cloud and the common shared services that are going to be required to sustain the Army once we’re in the cloud,” Crawford said, according to FedScoop.

Crawford said the service will also roll out several cloud “pathfinder” exploratory contracts for several discrete purposes: tactical intelligence data, financial management applications, global force integration systems, logistics and maintenance, and the tactical server infrastructure. 

The Army has been holding cloud strategy meetings with other government agencies as well as private sector entities, including Netflix and Airbnb, according to Crawford. The Army has taken away from those meetings that it should “start small — focus your cloud efforts on specific Army problems while you learn and build the capacity as an institution to migrate the Army to the cloud.” 

To that end, Crawford said that a win for the Army 24 months from now is that the service branch has “grown the capacity, whether its contract writing or other areas to institutionally learn how to do this,” FCW reported. “And then we will be able to get to scale, and then we will be able to get to speed.” 

The Army also will release a revised data strategy in the next 90 days, led by Tom Sasala, director of operations and architecture in Crawford’s office, Crawford said.

David Vergun/U.S. Army