DOD RFI Invites Cloud Vendors into Federal Data Centers

Rick Antonucci_65x85

by Rick Antonucci, Analyst

Cloud Vendors into Federal Data CentersLast week DISA released a Request for Information exploring ways for cloud service providers (CSPs) to use DOD-owned data centers to provide private cloud services for the military. One option DISA is contemplating is allowing private providers to lease rack and server space in their data centers to provide the cloud services through their Data Center Leasing Model (DCLM). CSPs selected to provide these services would undergo the required security vetting necessary to operate inside DOD data centers.

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The Future of the Joint Information Environment (JIE)…

Stephanie Headshot 65x85by Stephanie Meloni, Senior Analyst

Last week DISA and key Army leaders convened with industry at an AFCEA DC luncheon to weigh-in on the Army’s future IT priorities, address the current status of some of their larger efforts, and discuss available funding. Of course, JIE was weighing heavy on everyone’s mind; the Air Force, Army, and DISA continue to be committed to partnering together, implementing projects for shared architectures and services.

Here are key projects all three agencies are working on:

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Key DISA Initiatives Gaining Momentum

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

If you recall from our webinar on DISA given back in March, we hammered home the point that DISA is central to all the major initiatives DOD is undertaking. We centered our discussion on key pillars like cybersecurity, cloud, mobility, strategic sourcing, and enterprise system consolidation. Last week DISA held its annual Forecast to Industry Day to provide a progress report on existing activities in these areas and give updates on changes taking place in the agency. Topics of the Industry Day were largely in line with our analysis in March:

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JIE Concept Creates Industry Opportunities

Stephanie Headshot 65x85by Stephanie Meloni, Senior Analyst

In mid-May, AFCEA brought together industry and DOD leadership at the well-attended Joint Information Environment Symposium in Baltimore, MD. Government leaders from all of the service branches, along with a large presence from DISA, spoke about their future priorities and plans for JIE implementation, as well as the challenges and accomplishments they have encountered along the way thus far. The speakers were unified in their commitment to the JIE concept as they drive forward with execution.

Though JIE is not a program of record with funded dollars (but this could change with the 2015 NDAA), its implementation is the DOD’s top priority in the current fiscally constrained environment. JIE looks to eliminate inefficiencies in delivery of enterprise services and improve cyber defense through consolidation to a single security architecture. There are many ways that industry can assist with the DOD’s execution of JIE – here are two big JIE topics that present opportunity for industry:

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The Future of FBI Cloud Adoption

Tomas OKeefe_65x85by Tomas O’Keefe, Senior Analyst

Back in February, the Federal Bureau of Investigation hosted a cloud computing day where vendors could talk, face-to-face, with FBI IT personnel about the Bureau’s needs when it came to the next generation of cloud implementation. I had a chance to attend this event and was pleasantly surprised by how willing FBI personnel were to discuss the challenges facing the Bureau and how industry can help accelerate cloud adoption and start to lay out of the framework for the next evolution in the FBI’s network. One of the most important elements that vendors are going to have to keep in mind when selling to the FBI is the dual-mission of law enforcement and intelligence work that the Bureau engages in, meaning a one-size-fits-all solution likely won’t work for the Bureau. What this means is vendors are going to have to be creative about balancing the FBI’s cloud needs in a cost-controlled environment.

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DISA at the Center of Pentagon’s IT Modernization Plans

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

Despite its relatively small size within DOD, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has an outsize role in the Pentagon’s IT initiatives. When it comes to technology, DISA’s efforts are structured around four strategic goals:

  • Evolve the Joint Information Environment
  • Provide Joint Command and Control
  • Operate and Assure the Enterprise
  • Optimize Department Investments

These goals are in keeping with DISA’s role as the purveyor of command and control systems, enterprise infrastructure, and storage for the Department. DISA’s mission also places it in the unique position of be in the center of every facet of the Pentagon’s overall IT modernization goals and thus a key insertion point for the product community. DOD CIO Teri Takai’s “10-Point Plan for IT Modernization” is aimed at meeting the Department’s IT challenges and is a key facet of its overall goals of cutting waste and saving money. Several of those modernization goals with DISA’s role in them are as follows:

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What Air Force Wants in a Cloud Broker

Stephanie Headshot 65x85by Stephanie Meloni, Senior Analyst

Speaking at an AFCEA event, held January 17, Dr. Tim Rudolph, U.S. Air Force Senior Leader for Integrated Information Capabilities, stressed that the Air Force is moving to the cloud too slowly. He admitted that the organization is behind on implementation and that a cultural change is needed. Along with the Navy and Marine Corps, the Air Force appears reluctant to adopt Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) as their cloud broker. At a separate AFCEA event, held January 21, DISA program managers were in agreement that cultural change is needed when vetting solutions across DOD agencies with “140+ engineers in a room”— each one wanting their own perfect solution.

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DOD Cloud Demand Increases, but DISA’s Role May Change

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

DISA’s role as the central broker and provider of cloud services for all of DOD is in jeopardy. Back in July 2012, Department CIO, Teresa Takai designated the agency as the DOD cloud broker. That means DISA manages the use, performance, and delivery of cloud services for DOD customers. The precursor to this designation was, DISA First, a policy where Defense agencies would consider the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) for data hosting before considering other options. The outcome of these policies, ideally, was DISA being the key facilitator for all things cloud. So far these strategies have worked with mixed success.

DISA’s $450 million draft RFP, released in the summer to supplement its private cloud services with commercial cloud offerings is now being revisited because of lukewarm buy-in from the rest of the Department. Also, Takai’s push toward a cloud-based and DISA managed enterprise email system is facing resistance from important DOD stakeholders like Navy and Air Force. The consistent thread through all of the opposition is cost, as many within the military branches believe it would be cheaper to purchase cloud services directly from industry. Also, while they may not say it publicly, there is resistance within many in the Department to outsourcing cloud procurement outside of their respective silo. The result is that DISA’s first two major initiatives, the cloud contract and enterprise email, have met mixed success.

That’s not to say that adoption of cloud technology is shrinking within DOD. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act directed that DOD move in the direction of adopting cloud solutions for its data. Trends suggest the Department is indeed following this mandate. Cloud image 2The Navy, for example, is working with commercial cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) for many of its public websites. The Pentagon is still closing data centers and reducing applications, thus increasing the need for cloud services down the road. These are just a couple of the many examples of cloud adoption spreading across the Department.

Expect cloud buyers to be distributed across the Department and less focused around DISA, an outcome that Teri Takai may not have wanted, but one that doesn’t necessarily impact the dollars spent on cloud offerings. DISA will still play a key role in cloud implementation and management for the Department, particularly with regard to private hosting requirements, like for sensitive, non-public data. Also, the Joint Information Environment, a conceptual end-state featuring interconnected and shared IT infrastructure across the DOD enterprise will rely on core data centers that will be managed by DISA. That will not change.

If you are selling cloud services into the Department, know that trends toward cloud adoption are here to stay and be aware of the following challenges they have highlighted as pain points:

  • Cyber security
  • Continuity of operations
  • Resilience
  • Data migration and management
  • Overcoming network dependence in low-bandwidth environment

The bottom line is that if you are a cloud provider working in the Defense market, whether your particular DOD agency or military branch is pursuing a go-it-alone strategy or going through DISA, the cloud market for DOD will remain robust for the foreseeable future.

A Tale of Two Subject Lines

photo_Allan-Rubin_65x85by Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

I noticed an interesting juxtaposition of subject lines in my (overflowing) email in-box today.

Early in the day, I saw this message from Defense Systems:

DISA collaboration tool doubling its capacity

The top story was summarized as follows: “The enterprise collaboration tool known as Defense Connect Online is about to double in capacity as users seek less expensive ways to conduct meetings and training in austere budget times, reports DISA.” The piece caught my attention as it signaled recognition of the inevitable: government employees are finding new ways to communicate and collaborate since they can’t travel in person.

Not long after, I received a message with this subject line:

Latest Conference Cancellations & Postponements on GovEvents

 This email from GovEvents.com led with the following summary, which serves as a continuation of my last blog post on a similar topic:

I think GovEvents.com is a great tool that provides a valuable service to the community (if you don’t use it, you should). It just struck me as significant that a company which promotes government events led its outreach effort with a message about…the cancellation of government events!

We all know travel budgets and other restrictions are hammering the marketing media mix. We see today that our DoD customers are doubling their capacity to host their meetings, training sessions, and other communications virtually to cut costs and minimize scrutiny from ethics officials and their superiors.

What does this mean for government marketers? Should we be investing more in online media, virtual events, webinars, and the like? Face to face communication will never be replaced, but what will place a close second?

The more important question is: where are you placing your bets?

We’re continually looking into new avenues to help our manufacturers and channel partners reach their government customers. I’d love to hear from you about how your plans are changing.

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