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CHIPS Articles: State of the Cloud

State of the Cloud
By Travis Methvin, Naval Commercial Cloud Services Project Manager - October-December 2020
It’s All About the Cloud

The Department of the Navy (DON) Information Superiority Vision released Feb. 14, 2020, articulates a vision of “The Right Information in the Right Hands, Ready to Decide, Act, and Fight.”

The DON network, our naval digital warfighting platform, must autonomously deliver the right information to the right hands, ready to observe, orient, decide, and act. The DON’s modernization efforts … must free humans to compete, fight, and win.

DON Chief Information Officer Aaron Weis has emphasized that “Modernization” means, above all else, harnessing the transformative power of cloud.

Cloud is no longer new and unfamiliar technology, rather, the challenge today is how to mature our consumption of cloud, so that it is faster, cheaper, easier, and more transformative. Nonetheless, it is worth reiterating the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) definition of cloud characteristics (SP 800-145), because we still struggle to fully achieve the cloud’s key advantages:

  • On-demand self-service.
  • Broad network access.
  • Resource pooling.
  • Rapid elasticity.
  • Measured service.

At the same time, the DON made significant strides during Fiscal Year 2020 toward achieving these cloud computing goals across a broad range of Infrastructure-, Platform-, and Software-as-a-Service successes.

A Helping Hand on the Journey to Cloud

Acting on behalf of the Program Executive Office for Digital and Enterprise Services (PEO Digital), Naval Commercial Cloud Services (NCCS) (PMW-270) operationalizes DON cloud policy by enabling and accelerating DON-wide adoption of cloud services in an agile, cost-efficient, and secure manner. NCCS is responsible for ensuring that cloud computing is the primary approach to transforming how the DON delivers, protects, and manages data and applications across all mission areas. In addition to providing overarching guidance on cloud governance through its Naval Cloud Brokerage Model, NCCS liaises with industry to leverage commercial cloud services, implementing a multi-cloud, multi-vendor strategy that focuses on maximizing the use of enterprise cloud services.

Naval Commercial Cloud Services resources include:

-- Naval Digital Marketplace (https://cloud.navy.mil) – a central repository for the DON to access cloud tools, resources, and cloud training. This is the single point of entry for beginning your cloud journey. Live now and with new capabilities and cloud services added regularly, the Digital Marketplace allows you to learn about cloud computing, estimate costs and capabilities, and browse the service catalog.

-- NavalX Cloud Playbook (https://intellipedia.intelink.gov/wiki/NavalX_Playbook_-_Cloud) – The NavalX Cloud Playbook assists mission owners in migrating to the cloud more efficiently by providing guidance in navigating policy, engineering, security, and organizational challenges in a modern, accessible manner.

Transformational changes such as cloud adoption requires a ‘go-to’ organization to help drive the process, provide tools and guidance to the rest of the enterprise, and to minimize redundancies by providing operational consistency. NCCS fills this role for the DON by serving as the singular gateway for cloud services.

– Travis Methvin, NCCS Project Manager

FY2020 NCCS successes include:

  • IaaS - Hybrid Cloud/NetApp: The DON is collaborating with NetApp to leverage their data fabric for a hybrid capability that simplifies the on-premise to cloud data management process, accelerating the time required for cloud migration.
  • PaaS - DevSecOps/Compile to Combat in 24 Hours (C2C24): The DON expanded its DevSecOps framework beyond the afloat environment and into tactical ashore and commercial cloud environments. This project established a common hosting platform and set of application services that are developed once and deployed to multiple locations.
  • SaaS - Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC): FNMOC, working with NCCS, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), and the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), successfully prototyped weather and ocean pattern prediction and modeling in a cloud-native environment, enabling unprecedented successes as Hurricanes Laura and Marcos approached landfall in August which produced larger models completed sooner, running faster, and costing far less.
  • SaaS – Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR): CVR service has been an unprecedented success for the Defense Department (DoD) and the DON. In looking at the NIST definition of cloud characteristics, one can see the dramatic steps the DON has taken in achieving on-demand self-service, broad network access, and rapid elasticity, and the less visible ones, in resource pooling and measured service.
    • A Preview of Naval Commercial Cloud Services FY2021 Initiatives include:

      • Risk Management Framework (RMF) Step 4 Automation – Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) is working to automate RMF Step 4 in a cloud environment, which would significantly decrease the processing time for an RMF Authority to Operate (ATO).
      • Impact Level 6 (IL-6) Secret Cloud Environment - Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is projecting to launch a classified IL-6 production environment by the end of this year. An Amazon Web Services (AWS) IL-6 development cloud environment is currently available via Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific’s (NIWC PAC) Naval Research & Development Establishment (NR&DE).
      • Code Analysis Support Tool (CAST) – Launching CAST, a scanning and analysis application software tool will reduce time, cost and risk in enterprise-wide cloud migration. Leveraging this commercial cloud technology will optimize cloud readiness decision making for cloud migration efforts across the DON.
      • Cloud Consumption Tracking – To enhance data-driven decision making on IT spend, resourcing, and operations, the DON Chief Data Officer (CDO) and NCCS are partnering to leverage the Advana/Jupiter data platform to perform data analytics and data visualization to track, monitor, and evaluate cloud consumption. This will be a powerful tool to minimize redundancies and reduce cloud spend.
      • United States Marine Corps Cloud Managed Service Office (MSO) Alignment – NCCS is partnering with the Marine Corps Cloud Managed Service Office (MSO) to integrate Navy and Marine Corps cloud efforts into a single cloud management structure.

      Accelerating the Transition to Cloud-Native

      Digital transformation is a comprehensive modernization of the technical capabilities, business processes, culture, and user experience across an organization. Modernization implies digitization and requires redesigning existing systems or creating new ones. Modernization also benefits from a holistic, streamlined approach to acquiring new technology. The DON plans to update policy accordingly to ensure a department-wide digital transformation.

      Soon, new DON cloud policy will streamline the provisioning and delivery of cloud services. The successes of the Digital Marketplace and the maturation of cloud service offerings warrant an update to cloud policy which, in the case of the DON CIO, dates back to 2015 and 2016, and is no longer in alignment with DoD policy.

      Shortly after a cloud policy update is released, the DON CIO will be developing policy to support the transition to enterprise services. Simply put, too much time, effort, and money is spent into solving problems that have already been solved by others. While one size does not and will not fit all in an organization as varied as the DON, our mindset needs to shift from “Assume unique, share by exception” to “Assume shared, build unique by exception.”

      The DON must eliminate redundancies within the organization by building and delivering IT services once, and then utilizing our IT capabilities often.

      – Jane Rathbun, DON Chief Technology Officer and DASN(IWAR)

      Continuing the Conversation

      NCCS will continue to broadcast emerging cloud technologies to the DON as they become available. For those interested in learning more about how to begin the cloud migration process, or to explore the plethora of cloud-related resources that NCCS has consolidated for the DON, please visit the DON’s https://cloud.navy.mil)" alt='Link will open in a new window.' target='whole'>Naval Digital Marketplace.

      To receive updates regarding DON cloud capabilities and to learn from the lessons of other mission owners, please follow NCCS on https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/navy-commercial-cloud-services-pmw-270-/ and join the monthly Naval Cloud Community calls. To be added to the call, and for any inquiries, please email NCCSSupport.fct@navy.mil.

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