After six years of leading the Department of the Navy’s efforts to close data centers and consolidate business-related applications, the Data Center and Application Optimization (DCAO) Project Office shut its doors on Sept. 30.
Although initially tasked with reducing the number of Navy data centers to 20 by the end of fiscal year 2018, as part of a federal green information technology initiative, DCAO did more than originally anticipated. DCAO consolidated 133 data centers (closed 57) and migrated 2,504 servers and systems, impacting more than 700,000 Navy end users.
The impact of DCAO’s work is far greater than the number of data centers that remain or the reduction in the number of applications used by the Navy. DCAO played an essential role in fundamentally transforming the delivery of the Navy’s IT infrastructure services by closing disparate and isolated data centers, developing modern enterprise-wide hosting environments, reducing hosting costs and improving cybersecurity, all of which helped pave the way for the Navy’s transition to the cloud. Those efforts ensure access to efficiently managed, secure, reliable and agile services in both enterprise data centers and in the commercial cloud.
“When DCAO first started, we were looking to reduce our environmental impact and save money, but as we reduced and modernized the Navy’s data centers, we realized our work was actually the first step in the Navy’s move to the cloud,” said DCAO Director Cmdr. Jim Fabiszak. “Through the rationalization of the applications used throughout the Navy, the establishment of true enterprise data centers and our commercial cloud efforts, the Navy is poised for a digital transformation.”
Designated as the Navy’s Data Center Consolidation (DCC) Task Force in fiscal year 2012, DCAO was created to support the Office of Management and Budget’s Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative to maximize IT efficiencies, improve IT capabilities and modernize network security by combining legacy Navy data centers. DCAO’s task was to consolidate the Navy’s data centers by optimizing the number of data center-hosted applications leading to a decrease in the Navy’s total ownership cost by saving money on energy, equipment and space.
Rationalizing and modernizing the application portfolio hosted at the legacy data centers was the first step in consolidating the Navy’s data centers. DCAO worked with Navy commands to reduce the number of applications hosted in data centers. Many of the applications were obsolete and no longer used. In other cases, a single, modern application could do what several applications used to do. Additionally, DCAO worked with commands on a utilization assessment to determine if they needed all of the services and the server space that they were purchasing.
Through the application rationalization and utilization assessment process, DCAO migrated 185 applications from their legacy location to either a Component Enterprise Data Center (CEDC) or the commercial cloud. With fewer applications and business systems to host, DCAO reduced the Navy’s 133 disparate legacy data centers to nine in four years. The number of data centers was further decreased to three CEDCs by 2018.
One of those three CEDCs is the Navy’s first-ever Component Enterprise Data Recovery Center which opened in Kansas City in 2017. The data recovery center provides the Navy a single enterprise data recovery site and a backup cloud access point. The Kansas City recovery center was a breakthrough for the Navy because it consolidated multiple backup solutions into a single site.
The second step in consolidating the Navy’s data centers was the development of an enterprise data center model with a standard governance model and a standard set of baseline services. The governance model ensures the same baseline services are available at all the data centers and that all new systems and applications undergo the same host onboarding process. The legacy data centers were managed by the commands that utilized it which meant services and the process to add systems and applications varied widely from site to site.
By establishing the Navy’s first approved application hosting cost model and associated service catalogs, DCAO developed a “fee for service” approach to application hosting that will be carried into the Navy’s future cloud solutions.
As DCAO reduced the number of Navy data centers, computing technology continued to improve and the way industry used it evolved. Industry abandoned the widespread use of data centers and industry’s push to the cloud picked up speed. The Navy saw the value cloud technology could bring to its workforce and DCAO began exploring cloud options to reduce costs while improving security, reliability, efficiency and productivity in support of our warfighters.
“Data Center Consolidation was about changing the Navy's focus from reducing commodity costs to warfighting capabilities,” said former DCAO Director Duong Hang. “Senior leaders realized that closing data centers is not an achievement unto itself — it is simply a by-product of shifting computing requirements and our IT talent. It is ultimately about the warfighting value we derive from our investments in people and tools rather than simply cutting costs."
DCAO has been at the forefront of the Navy’s commercial cloud effort since 2014 when it launched cloud migration and hosting pilots. In March 2016, it opened the Navy Cloud Store version 1.0 offering Navy customers a catalog of cloud hosting solutions with a single cloud provider.
Additionally, DCAO spearheaded the award of the Navy’s first commercial cloud production contract in 2016. Via this contract, DCAO facilitated the provision of Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and shared services for Navy business systems and applications in a secure and optimized environment. Furthermore, DCAO refined the enterprise commercial cloud service delivery model to provide user-friendly visibility, ordering, and management of Navy commercial cloud services. Today, DCAO has completed 19 commercial cloud transitions to an AWS hosting environment, with an additional 26 applications currently in the migration phase.
“The Navy’s data center consolidation effort is really about getting our Navy applications into modern, secure, cloud-first environments,” said John Pope, executive director at Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I), and former DCAO director. “Whether ashore or afloat, we owe our warfighters the most effective and affordable capabilities that enable them to compete, deter and win tonight. The DCAO team made real and lasting contributions in this area.”
DCAO’s cloud achievements were recognized in 2016 when DCAO’s Commercial Sustainment Team, along with Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic’s Data Center Team, was awarded a SPAWAR Lightning Bolt award for their work in developing and deploying the Online Portal Enterprise Navy (OPEN), the Navy’s first commercially-hosted cloud software-as-a-service offering for public-facing websites. OPEN provides Navy customers with cloud website hosting, portal hosting and storage solutions. In the first five months, the OPEN Team successfully migrated 831 Navy SharePoint websites. Today, OPEN hosts more than 1,250 Navy command websites with more coming online regularly.
While DCAO itself stood down at the end of September, its work and mission will continue on through the Navy Commercial Cloud Services Project Office, which is developing and providing oversight for the Navy’s cloud brokerage structure, and the Navy’s cloud brokers, who are authorized to procure and deliver cloud services. Those groups are the Navy’s new leaders in meeting federal and Department of Defense mandates to move to the cloud faster and more efficiently.
“The work of enterprise data migration is really just beginning,” Fabiszak said. “Considering the Navy operates in the most dynamic and challenging of environments, we must never lose sight of our role in delivering increased capability to the warfighter at a faster rate. I am confident those who will come after us will continue to lead from the front in innovative ways.”
During its six years of operation, the Data Center and Application Optimization Project Office consolidated legacy data centers, reduced applications and business systems and awarded the Navy’s first commercial cloud production contract. Additional DCAO achievements include:
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