What State and Local Gov Can Learn from DoD’s Move to Cloud

Migrating applications and workloads to the cloud isn’t an overnight job for government agencies — big or small. But when this type of move involves a large Defense Department (DoD) agency, it can be especially challenging to navigate and execute. But not impossible.

During GovLoop’s recent State and Local Virtual Summit, Dr. Jim Bondra, Chief Technical Advisor at Dynamic Systems, Inc., detailed how one defense agency migrated hundreds of thousands of lines of code from its development and training platform to a Dynamic Systems’ cloud facility in El Segundo, California.

Although this is a DoD case study, Bondra explained that it has a lot of applicability for state and local governments that have complex IT arrangements and must balance the lack of in-house skills and training around cloud technologies.

Dynamic Systems works exclusively with government entities to architect, integrate and deploy enterprise services and infrastructure into secure environments. The company joined forces with NetApp, a hybrid cloud data services, to provide a solution for the DoD agency that could support its 35,000 users.

Part of the challenge is the agency needed a way to better support its work of managing and tracking logistics data and information about services. The agency was a little tentative about moving to the cloud, but the two companies came up with an investment strategy that posed little initial risk and low upfront costs. The strategy involved moving gradually from a local facility to Dynamic Systems’ secure cloud facility, which offers infrastructure and platform services.

The migration from the local facility to the secure cloud took three years and benefited from an architecture known as data fabric. Simply put, data fabric is a software-defined approach for data management that enables organizations to connect disparate data management and storage resources.

The move resulted in a 50% reduction in monthly costs and provided a way to consistently apply principles and guidelines for the agency’s development team, in terms of using the same tools and repository for code.

Bondra noted that the move to cloud is not immediate. Although the work with Dynamic Systems and NetApp took three years, it took about eight to nine years in total for the agency to move from DoD data centers to a branch facility and then to the cloud.

“There were lots of stops,” he said. He explained that it can range from months to a few years to migrate complete workloads to the cloud. And then there is the training piece to get employees up to speed on how to use the new technology.

The team used something called mobile training suites that literally provide a classroom in a box, with laptops, systems and servers into a classroom that employees can use to get hands-on training. The mobile training can be moved from site to site to accommodate needs.

Before moving to the cloud, however, agencies should always determine whether they are cloud-ready. Key to that is ensuring that agencies have a handle on their data. “Our challenge is how do we let the end consumer … consume the data so they can make it useful.”

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Photo Credit: DoD Flickr


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