Feb 09 2022

Army, DISA Work to Support Hybrid Cloud Deployments

The Army and the Defense Information Systems Agency are expanding the use of hybrid cloud setups in new environments.

The Defense Department is plowing ahead with a new multivendor approach to enterprise cloud computing, known as the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability, in which Microsoft and Amazon Web Services are seen as the leading contenders to win the contract.

At the same time, various components within the DOD are continuing their efforts to evolve how they use cloud tools. Both the Army and the Defense Information Systems Agency, the IT services arm of the Pentagon, have recently signaled that they are moving ahead with plans to support hybrid cloud environments within their respective domains.

First, the Army is setting up a hybrid cloud system to support tactical operations for a unit in the Pacific, the first tactical cloud setup of its kind. Meanwhile, DISA expects to unveil a Container as a Service product in the next few months to synchronize various DOD cloud efforts.

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Army Preps Hybrid Cloud Deployment in Pacific

Army CIO Raj Iyer said in January that the service branch is “well on its way” to deploying its first cloud system outside the United States, as Breaking Defense reports.

The setup in the Indo-Pacific will use both on-premises data centers and commercial cloud services to operate outside the continental U.S., Iyer said during AFCEA NOVA’s Army IT Day Conferences, according to FedScoop.

By using a hybrid cloud model, the Army will be in a better position to store and process data. “It allows us to integrate cloud into all aspects of experimentation,” Iyer said.

Army spokesman Bruce Anderson tells FedScoop that Army Pacific is “analyzing information exchange, system, and service requirements to determine the optimal locations for cloud-hosted capabilities.”

The Army will conduct a “series of exercises, experimentations, and basic application analysis” through fiscal 2023 as it works to get cloud tools to the edge in the Pacific, he says.

Iyer noted that the Army is taking a data-centric approach to cloud migration so the service branch is in a position not just to move apps to the cloud but also to ensure it can “harvest the data in those applications and in those systems.”

“So it’s not just the traditional ways of pulling data,” Iyer said, according to Breaking Defense. “It’s now getting to an API-driven architecture to build a Command Post Computing Environment of the future. … We are now actively working with units where we are allowing them to now experiment mission threats and operational scenarios using the capacity in the cloud and on the platforms we’ve established.”

RELATED: What’s next for the Army’s network unification plans?

DISA Sees Containers as Key to Hybrid Cloud Future

Meanwhile, DISA is taking a container-based approach to supporting cloud services. Sharon Woods, the director of DISA’s Hosting and Compute Center, said in January that DISA wants to use containers to enable on-premises data centers to be a part of the Pentagon’s larger hybrid cloud environment.

Woods, who spoke Jan. 20 during a virtual event hosted by AFCEA’s Washington, D.C., chapter, said that while the hybrid approach sometimes “raises an eyebrow,” DOD can benefit significantly from using containers, FCW reports.

“A server is a server is a server. So it is possible to do that” on-premises, she said. “And where that becomes super powerful is when you have an on-prem container in the data centers, you have containers in the cloud. And now the nexus between the two is substantially easier and more standardized than it would have been previously.”

EXPLORE: What progress has the DOD made on cloud migration?

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