A view of the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. 

Sep 20 2021

DOD Makes Progress on Cloud Migration, Data Center Closures

The Defense Department is also implementing IT portfolio management to help ensure technology investments are aligned with mission objectives.

It’s a busy time at the Defense Department’s Office of the CIO.

The Pentagon is racing to complete significant cloud migrations and data center closures. The department is also standing up a new IT portfolio management capability, which in theory should enable the DOD to better align its IT investments with mission priorities.

That’s according to Danielle Metz, deputy CIO for information enterprise, who spoke recently at the ATARC 2021 Digital Transformation Virtual Summit. It will take DOD until fiscal year 2022 to complete all of the cloud migrations and data center closures, Metz said, missing the department’s stated goal of doing so by the end of the current fiscal year, MeriTalk reports.

DOD Shifts Resources to Cloud, Closes Data Centers

In 2018, the DOD kicked off a plan to migrate about 960 systems to the cloud and shutter 60 data centers by the end of fiscal 2021, which is Sept. 30. That work will spill over into the next fiscal year, though Metz noted that the DOD has closed more than 1,400 data centers since 2010, “with hundreds more scheduled to close as systems continue to migrate to more effective, efficient and secure environments.”

In late 2018, Metz noted, her office “focused on cloud adoption and data center consolidation with 14 defense agencies and field activities — or as we call them, the DAFAs — as part of the DOD’s IT reform activity.”

As MeriTalk reports, Metz said those efforts recognized that “the DoD warfighter requires a rapidly scalable information environment that transforms data into actionable information quickly and efficiently,” but that the DOD’s IT environment at the time “was not meeting this need.”

“We started this initiative in earnest, with a goal of moving 960 individual systems to targeted cloud environments and closing 60 data centers by the fourth quarter” of this fiscal year, she said. “Today we have completed 80 percent of our goal on target and have action plans in place to complete the remaining 20 percent by next year.”

As a result of the efforts, Metz said, “the DAFAs now have the ability to leverage modern compute and storage capabilities, and build native apps in the cloud, neither of which were accessible to them. They were bound to their physical data centers.”

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DOD Shifts to IT Portfolio Management

The DOD’s cloud migration efforts “laid the groundwork to implement IT portfolio management across the department,” according to Metz.

The approach will integrate with DOD business processes to ensure the department is following through on optimization and modernization initiatives, Metz said, according to Federal News Network.

“We will enable the DOD CIO to track what IT capabilities are noncompliant with policies, strategies and architectures, what portion of the DOD IT budget is aligned to noncompliant capabilities, and what capabilities are executing modernization plans,” Metz said.

The Pentagon is developing metrics and targets to “track the improvement of data sources that are critical” to supporting the new framework, according to Metz.

“These metrics will address the data quality of each authoritative data source, the optimization of the data sources themselves and the interoperability between data sources and other duty platforms,” she said. “We will then integrate the IT portfolio management process with the DOD budget cycle to ensure resources reflect IT portfolio management decisions, and that resulting initiatives have the funding they require.”

Although IT portfolio management “may sound like a boring back-office process,” Metz said, the DOD’s “goal is to implement an analytic framework that will provide quality actionable information … beyond the DOD CIO to ensure our funding decisions are properly aligned to strategic transformation initiatives across the department.”

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