This blog post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent research guide, “Connecting the Mission of the Defense Department to You.”
Cloud computing is growing as a popular technology option for government agencies. However, defense sector agencies have yet to harness its full power, leaving them unable to reap the benefits of cloud technology, such as improved mission effectiveness, cost savings and efficiency.
To understand how defense organizations can better harness the power of cloud, GovLoop spoke with Jennifer Chronis, General Manager of DoD, and Jim Caggy, Manager of DoD Solutions, at Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS provides a hyperscale commercial cloud for government agencies, including defense organizations.
Chronis identified three primary challenges to successful cloud adoption in DoD: outdated acquisition procedures, perceived security concerns and cultural resistance.
When trying to procure the on-demand, scalable services of the cloud, finding the right solution is only half the battle. DoD contracting officials also must select the right acquisition approach which can differ from traditional IT procurement. Whereas traditional IT procurement requires agencies to make large upfront investments in hardware and capital expenditures, the cloud provides a pay-as-you-go model so agencies only buy the computing capacity they need, and use it only when it’s required. Caggy also cited the lack of DoD-wide acquisition vehicles for mission owners to access the cloud.
Perceived security concerns also create a barrier to cloud adoption. Not only do employees have misconceptions about security in the cloud, DoD’s strict and lengthy security protocols also present challenges.
Finally, for many senior leaders, moving to the cloud is a major shift from the way they currently manage IT. Not only are they managing an elastic technology, they’re also required to retrain the IT workforce and make the business case for the move to the cloud.
Hyperscale commercial cloud can help DoD agencies overcome these challenges to make the most of cloud solutions. AWS cloud has security built into it, taking many of the security concerns off the hands of IT administrators. It has an extensive range of federal security certifications, including FedRAMP and DoD SRG, and leverages the AWS partner ecosystem of security-focused partners.
To help public sector agencies select the right acquisition approach, AWS offers a Cloud Buying Guide to walk customers through the steps they need to take to migrate to the cloud. The guide also helps customers leverage existing contract vehicles that have already been used in other parts of the federal government.
Finally, Chronis and Caggy addressed the culture challenge of cloud adoption, citing how important it is to educate and train customers. As cloud adoption increases, IT professionals will need to learn different strategies to operate in this new environment and skills they didn’t have in the past.
In addition to helping agencies confront these challenges, hyperscale cloud provides the agility and cost savings that defense organizations need.
Organizations can leverage hyperscale commercial cloud resources and deploy servers and IT resources in minutes, using only the technology they need at that moment. This prevents IT customers from “over-provisioning” resources to ensure they have enough capacity to handle what they need to do at peak opportunity. “By leveraging hyperscale commercial cloud, our customers only have to provision the amount of resources that they need, knowing they can scale up or scale down,” Caggy said.
Hyperscale cloud also allows customers to trade capital expense for variable expense. The variable expense is much lower than what they would be able to get on their own due to the economies of scale.
Chronis and Caggy also shared examples of how defense organizations are already reaping these rewards. For instance, after the U.S. Navy moved all of its public facing websites to AWS, they saved almost 60 percent over what it would have spent hosting on-premise. In addition, the Air Force Special Operations Command uses AWS to store data and make it more readily available to post schedules and make them more open and available to those who need them.
In conclusion, Chronis highlighted the benefits AWS provides. From the rate and pace of innovation and the breadth of services to having the largest ecosystem in both customers and partners, AWS ranks high in its length of experience. “We really do believe that using hyperscale commercial cloud effectively becomes a mission enabler for DoD,” Chronis said.