The United States Department of Defense (DoD) has long been one of the foremost early adopters of new technology. In fact, the DoD has had an essential role in accelerating the advance of various technologies and having a tremendous impact on the private sector and commercial market. This is especially true when it comes to areas such as aviation, computing, and energy. In fact, without the DoD’s support and development of new technology, such technologies such as GPS and the internet itself would probably be considerably underdeveloped today – if they were even to exist in their present form at all! Because of this, the strategies used by the DoD, which are thoroughly researched and developed, can often serve as a strong guideline for private sector companies looking to adopt the new technology.
Businesses today can consider that the DoD’s dramatic expansion of its use of cloud computing technology in the next years is a massive endorsement of this technology and its positive effects on efficiency, security, and IT costs especially. In the DoD Cloud Computing Strategy document, released this week, the DoD outlines a plan consisting of four steps that is designed to promote the use of cloud computing within the DoD as well as training those responsible for acquisitions on how to contract cloud services and understand cloud computing technology. This lengthy document outlining in detail the many aspects of cloud computing can serve as a great resource for large companies looking to implement a cloud computing strategy in their operations.
According to the DoD Cloud Computing Strategy, the following four points will be essential for moving to a combined government and commercial cloud strategy:
- Use an outreach campaign to promote the use of cloud technology in DoD facilities in order to increase the number of cloud users and cloud service providers associated with the DoD.
- Eliminate unnecessary software duplication and unnecessary IT services in order to optimize consolidation of these in data centers.
- Delivering cloud services through the DoD’s own vendors, departments, and associated agencies.
- Making a move towards cloud-based hardware and software options in already-existing DoD data centers.
The four points enumerated above can serve as a basic template for businesses or government agencies wishing to make a large-scale move towards cloud technology. Some of the cloud services that will be essential in this move include cloud-based collaboration; web-based communication via instant messaging, temporary chat rooms, conferencing, and email; and integrating multimedia and data services on the cloud to ensure easy access from multiple locations.
Nearly all of the DoD’s cloud services will be managed by the Defense Information Systems Agency, with the main authority residing in the DoD’s chief information officer, Terri Takai. According to the DoD Cloud Computing Strategy, the goal of moving to the cloud is ensuring that the people involved in the DoD can access data whenever they need it, from any device, regardless of where they are. This freedom is what distinguishes cloud computing and puts it leagues ahead of traditional data storage and management.
To bypass the possible cloud computing security risks of using commercial cloud services, the DoD has indicated that they will have a rigorous control over the data stored on commercial cloud services. All critical mission data that could compromise or interrupt DoD operations if lost will not be hosted on commercial clouds. These decisions will be made by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). This combined model of government and commercial clouds has been seen in the past and is a hybrid cloud model that has come to be accepted as an industry standard as a way of ensuring better scalability and increased security.
So how can a business apply the DoD’s four strategies to their own implementation of cloud computing? Perhaps by establishing the following three recommendations learned from the DOD’s strategy:
- Actively promote cloud computing in all offices and branches of the company, incentivizing personal use, course-taking and certification, and promoting its use in company affiliates such as vendors or distributors.
- Cut back on unnecessary IT services and avoid software and hardware duplication wherever possible to cut costs. Consolidate existing computing capabilities in optimized data centers.
- Create a branch or division within the company charged with delivering cloud services, especially in the case of a private cloud for in-house use in order to prevent security leaks. The role and structure of DISA can be used as a guide for the organization of such a branch.
Be Part of Our Cloud Conversation
About the Guest Author:
Nida Rasheed is a freelance writer and owner of an outsourcing company, Nida often finds herself wanting to write about the subjects that are closest to her heart. She lives in Islamabad, Pakistan and can be found on Twitter @nidarasheed.