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U.S. Department of Defence Expands Cloud Computing Overseas

Business man with cloud computing connection concept on blue technology background

The U.S. Department of Defence (DOD) outlined its goals that would help support service members outside of the U.S. by way of cloud computing. The agency establishes the vision and goals for enabling a dominant all-domain advantage through cloud innovation at the tactical edge. It identifies areas requiring modernisation to realise the potential of cloud computing, specifically: security, redundancy, reliability and availability.

“Lack of connectivity impacts the ability for the cloud to work. You have to have a network that is resilient and capable to be able to operate in a distributed environment,” says Danielle Metz, Government CIO.

The strategy is broken down into three parts: resilient connectivity, providing the right computing power, and training members to utilise the technology. Regarding the first goal, the agency is committed to providing robust and resilient connectivity all the way to the tactical edge. Right now, network connectivity is a problem when it comes to connecting to the cloud and getting people the information they need to carry out their missions.

The agency lays out several objectives to achieve robust and resilient connectivity, including modernisation of in-theatre communications infrastructure, leveraging of state-of-the-art technology that can operate in denied, degraded, intermittent or limited environments, and enabling access to critical information from a variety of devices — not just laptops or desktop machines.

The secondary goal also helps to improve connectivity by improving processing power outside of the U.S. and as close to the tactical edge as possible. The amount and type of information that needs to be transmitted can put strains on systems, and the latency that is picked up in transmitting it all back to the U.S. and then again to its point of origin can make pinpoint, accurate, time-sensitive decisions very difficult.

The current strategy is creating significant delays and increasing the likelihood of putting our people and allies in harm’s way. Hence, either mobile or regional data centres located overseas can help with that. The DOD’s strategy recommends enterprise management of OCONUS cloud computing capability in order to let critical data be processed as close to the warfighter as possible. Moreover, warfighters must be proficient with what the department builds. They must be educated on how to use the systems they are provided — and DOD must ensure they are trained.

We need to cultivate the talent and ensure that we have continual cultivation as we rotate service members from those locations serving at the edge. We recognise if we’re able to fix problem 1 and problem 2, but we do not address problem 3, everything is for nought. It really has to be a symbiotic relationship in terms of ensuring that we have the right infrastructure in place, that we have the computing edge pushed to where the warfighter is, and then the third piece is ensuring that once we have all those things, the warfighter and the people who are actually at the edge know how to use it, and they can use it well and it’s seamless for them.

– Danielle Metz, Government CIO

All three goals can be achieved, but some will take much longer than others, and accomplishing all three will require more than just the efforts of the Defence Department. The approach needs to be holistic that involves a whole government, members of Congressfederal partners, internal to DOD, also with the cloud service providers and developing a cohesive strategy that works for the department to be able to deliver these much-needed services, to where they are needed.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, federal agencies looking for cloud solutions may soon be able to check with the General Services Administration’s (GSA) one-stop-shop cloud marketplace. The marketplace would feature both post-award contract management tools and professional IT services, along with a “foundational set of requirements” to ensure cloud solutions comply with a baseline set of security requirements and the Federal Risk and Authorisation Management Program guidance.

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