Should the Military Meet the Cloud?

Michelle DeFiore

blog-201005-disa-logoblog-201005-dodcontrol Last week David Linthicum posted his thoughts on how and why the military should adopt the cloud. We have seen that the federal government is making strides to adapt to the cloud, but has the military already adopted the cloud?
blog-201005-race-logo3Take a look at what’s going on right now in the military technology world revolving around cloud. DISA’s new CIO Henry Sienkiewicz for example, is a big proponent of the cloud for DoD use.

DISA is already using a private cloud with its cloud-based architecture called rapid access computing environment (RACE) and its highly successful forge.mil program.

Forge.mil is proving the “power of communities to build and enhance open-source software applications even for networks as guarded as the military’s.”

Remember that the Defense Department is planning to launch a defense-related app store this month, which will help to “ease the transition to cloud computing” and operate much in the same way as an Apple app store or like GSA’s apps for gov site.

The DoD storefront is just another step in bringing the military closer to the cloud, and proving (we hope) that concerns with sensitive information, security, and standards can be alleviated.

Sienkiewicz has been quoted as saying that cloud computing is another way information technology can serve the nation’s war fighters by finding appropriate innovations and introducing them as rapidly as they can be secured.

Other DISA officials have said that they want  to exploit what’s already been done (think forge.mil, RACE), saying, “if they’ve done it already, let’s keep going with it.”

The Air Force has been a huge advocate for Web 2.0 technologies (which this Air Force brat is happy to see), so it’s no surprise that they are on the forefront of other possibly disruptive technologies such as cloud computing, actively  looking into how they can use the cloud (partnering with DISA).

They are establishing a research center dedicated to cloud computing and as they adopt their highly secure “mission cloud”. Proof that with the right mindset, education, training, and execution – anything is possible.

So, I’m inclined to agree that Mr. Linthicum is correct in the opportunities that cloud computing holds for the military. In fact, I would say that the military is further along than Mr. Linthicum indicates.

Whether or not that is at the help and expense of the larger systems integrators and “beltway bandits” or not, it’s a step in the right direction towards alignment of  federal information systems and infrastructure.

If the government and military are in sync with rebuilding and managing their core IT infrastructure management, then the successful move to a more agile and efficient government in the cloud will come faster than we expect.

Let’s see if private companies can keep up.

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