Magazine article National Defense

Military Services Snub Defense Information Systems Agency as Cloud Broker

Magazine article National Defense

Military Services Snub Defense Information Systems Agency as Cloud Broker

Article excerpt



Under the Defense Department's cloud computing strategy, the Defense Information Systems Agency is supposed to be the clearinghouse for such services. Less than 18 months after the policy was enacted, however, DISA's role as the Pentagon's sole cloud broker is being met with considerable skepticism and resistance.

The 2012 Defense Authorization Act mandated that the Pentagon transfer its data to cloud solutions. The Defense Department later that year released its cloud computing strategy, which designated DISA as the clearinghouse. That means DISA manages the use, performance and delivery of cloud services for all Defense Department customers.

As the cloud broker for the Defense Department, so far, DISA appears to he on shak.y ground. Recent enterprise-wide initiatives managed by DISA have met with only mixed success. Military departments continue to want autonomy and question whether doing husiness through DISA is really any cheaper than going it alone. DISA charges service fees for its hosting duties.

Because of this pushback from military departments, DISA is considering reducing or terminating a $450 million commercial cloud contract--which speaks more to the reluctance of defense agencies than low demand for cloud services. The Navy and Marine Corps are already working with commercial cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services for many public, non-sensitive websites. They will likely work directly with commercial vendors if they decide to expand the services hosted on the commercial cloud.

In September, the Defense Department's Chief Information Officer Teri Takai mandated that organizations migrate their email accounts to the DISA managed enterprise email. The Air Force has done so with its secret-level email, but officials have voiced skepticism over whether it makes financial sense to move its much larger unclassified email account system to the DISA cloud.

The Navy's plans for its intranet successor, the $3.5 billion Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN), already includes enterprise email as a core service. Navy Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen is investigating the cost to take the email component out of NGEN to accommodate the Defense Department's enterprise email mandate. The cost analysis report was due in January.

Additionally, citing cost efficiencies, the Marine Corps recently moved many of its programs out of DISA's data centers to host them on its own cloud service, the Marine Corps Enterprise Information Technology Services (MCEITS) center in Kansas City, Mo. …

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