Shocker: Government agency drafts sensible cloud computing strategy

But Department of Defense's cloud plan could be at risk if it continues to rely on the same old IT contractors

The Department of Defense has released a cloud computing strategy that will move the organization's current applications from a "duplicative, cumbersome, and costly set of application silos to an end state designed to create a more agile, secure, and cost-effective service environment that can rapidly respond to changing mission needs." To move this effort along, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has been named as the "enterprise cloud service broker" to help maintain mission assurance and information interoperability.

I spent several days reading through the documents, which I found to be insightful and the basis of a sound plan. Now all we need is solid execution.

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The DoD has identified four concurrent steps that enable a phased implementation of the DoD Enterprise Cloud Environment:

  1. Foster adoption of cloud computing
  2. Optimize data center consolidation
  3. Establish the DoD enterprise cloud infrastructure
  4. Deliver cloud services

This plan describes a defined transformation strategy that takes the DoD from its current state, preps the department for cloud computing, then concludes when DoD information systems can finally take advantage of public and private cloud computing providers or technology.

The plan is a very good start, but it also requires expert execution. I'm optimistic about the DoD's movement to the cloud, and I believe great benefits will follow. However, there's a danger that most of the procurement for the transition will go to the same companies DoD has long used for its IT -- and they may not have the same view toward the use of cloud computing.

The risk is that traditional contractors will talk up cloud computing and profess their support of the DoD's cloud strategies. But in practice, they'll implement the plan with old-fashioned technologies, perhaps labeling them "private clouds" to confuse the issue. In 10 years, the landscape could look the same, with the exact inefficiencies the DoD has today.

I hope DISA takes a governance role in moving this strategy forward, including monitoring progress over time. Moreover, I hope it brings in some of the more innovative cloud minds to jump on the right track from the get-go.

This article, "Shocker: Government agency drafts sensible cloud computing strategy," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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