The Department of Defense (DOD) Enterprise Cloud Strategy was a popular discussion topic during the AFCEA TechNet Cyber 2019 Symposium in Baltimore May 14-16 and the DOD Chief Information Officer (CIO) Global Town Hall hosted at the the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA) headquarters on Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, May 17.
Dialogue at each event focused on the intent of the strategy and how it will change the way DOD hosts and shares data and applications.
A new way to think about the cloud
The DOD Enterprise Cloud Strategy – issued acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan in December 2018 – solidifies the department’s commitment to cloud efforts and the adoption of an enterprise environment, said Kevin Tate, a management analyst from the Office of the DOD Chief Information Officer (CIO), during the AFCEA TechNet Cyber 2019 Symposium.
By engaging a multi-vendor, multi-cloud environment strategy, the DOD is turning away from hardware-intensive infrastructures that create difficulties in maintaining equipment and lack the flexibilities needed to assimilate the information required by senior leadership, he said.
DOD CIO Dana Deasy expanded on this notion during his Global Town Hall.
“The very nature of what the DOD does is far from day-in and day-out predictable. [There is] a very episodic nature to what we do,” he said. “And because it is very episodic in nature, we are always having to think about the systems we build, the way we create storage, compute capacity, and communications for systems …”
The government wants to turn away from the long process of standing up a capability that has to go through acquisition, testing, certifications, and finally receive authority to operate on the network, said Deasy. That process ultimately delays making the capability available to the warfighter.
“Cloud allows you to provision and stand up and compute in a very different way,” he said.
By moving to an enterprise cloud environment where the foundation and the software are already certified, mission partners could receive immediate assistance by describing the attributes needed for mission performance, registering for the service, and making cloud capabilities available within hours, rather than weeks or months.
Breaking down the cloud strategy
The DOD Enterprise Cloud Strategy incorporates two types of cloud capabilities to accommodate mission requirements for the DOD.
The general purpose cloud, which incorporates the foundational structure known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, will provide the DOD with a commercial enterprise cloud environment for the majority of systems and applications. According to the strategy, “this general purpose cloud will allow the department to take advantage of economies of scale, broadly provide common core services, and ensure information superiority through data aggregation and analysis.”
Multiple fit-for-purpose commercial cloud or on-premises cloud solutions, which will provide functionality through a subscription or software as a service capability, will serve the mission partner if the general purpose cloud cannot accommodate a unique requirement.
MilCloud 2.0 is a DISA-provided fit-for-purpose cloud solution. It connects commercial cloud service offerings to DOD networks, providing mission partners with the latest cloud technology and the security of a DOD data center.
Transforming the delivery of capabilities
“The intent is to outsource the DOD enterprise commercial cloud service solutions – software as a service – when it comes to certain capabilities,” said Karl Kurz, DISA Unified Capabilities Portfolio program manager, during the AFCEA TechNet Symposium, explaining the software as a service component of fit-for-purpose cloud solutions.
Kurz emphasized the commercial cloud will eliminate the extra cost and maintenance of individual data servers, and will also minimize the attack surface – consolidating security efforts within a single enterprise cloud environment rather than multiple data centers.
DISA intends to provide a set of services to all DOD organizations through an initiative known as Enterprise Collaboration and Productivity Services (ECAPS). ECAPS is comprised of three capability sets.
The first capability set covers communication and collaboration services provided via the Defense Enterprise Office Solution (DEOS) – a single enterprise solution for communication, collaboration, and productivity. This solution includes capabilities in the productivity suite – word processing, presentation, database management, project-scheduling – messaging, content management, and real-time collaboration.
“The intent is for us to deliver a single enterprise solution to address the challenges we have as a department with interoperability, sharing of information, accessing information … across the entire operating space,” said Tate.
Capability set two will include unclassified video and voice services for business class users, while capability set three will focus on assured technologies in voice and video services.
The ECAPS initiative has governance working groups to shape testing parameters, determine critical integration points, and determine what challenges may be faced as the services are moved to the enterprise cloud environment.
Cloud is the future
“I personally believe the exciting part about cloud is how we are going to build applications in the future,” said Deasy.
He explained as the DOD moves toward the future, the infrastructure is not the only important aspect of the cloud. The applications built on top of the cloud will provide the department with creative, adaptable, and intelligent capabilities. The Enterprise Cloud Strategy sets the context for an environment where applications are able to adjust based on the health and the atmosphere of the environment, providing the flexibility to create and build technology for the future.
A copy of the Defense Enterprise Office Solutions (DEOS) and Enterprise Collaboration and Productivity Services (ECAPS) presentation from the AFCEA TechNet Symposium is available on DISA.mil.
Information about the DOD CIO Global Town Hall is available on DISA.mil and on the DOD CIO website.