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Helping DoD Make the Move to the Cloud

This blog post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide DoD in Transition. Download the full guide here.

Today, most federal agencies have accepted cloud computing as a must-have technology to push their missions forward. Yet as agencies transition to new solutions, many are finding that the journey to cloud is not an easy one. The Department of Defense (DoD) is no exception.

To learn how defense organizations can leverage third-party support to effectively migrate to cloud environments, we spoke with Jim Moore, DoD Lead Engineer at GTRI, an IT consulting services firm. He explained why commercial cloud models can both benefit and challenge federal agencies looking to modernize. “One of the biggest difficulties for the federal government is that the cloud can be very standard, but there’s really no one-size-fit-all process to migrate to the cloud,” he said.

Moreover, Moore explained that DoD has a particular challenge when it comes to cloud adoption. Even in comparison to other agencies, DoD’s requirements are unique given its highly mobile distributed workforce and the high security required for its data. “But they still have to adopt cloud in a way that’s commercially viable, secure and agile enough to be able to support them,” he said.

To navigate the transition to cloud, many defense agencies are turning to third-party providers like GTRI to create a tailored cloud transition plan. Before that plan is crafted, however, Moore explained that it’s crucial to execute a cloud readiness assessment. Current virtualization, security measures, application integrations and networking functionality should all be considered before moving to the cloud, in order to appropriately determine what work needs to be done before migration takes place.

But while many internal IT departments have a good understanding of their current technology infrastructure, Moore said many datacenter professionals don’t have the same understanding of how those aspects relate to cloud transition considerations.

That’s why it’s often necessary to pull in third-party providers who can map current IT functionality to future cloud needs, based on their experiences and knowledge from other cloud migrations. Called cloud readiness assessments, these evaluations consider existing capabilities as well as potential solutions that could increase their readiness for cloud.

“Once we complete an assessment of the information technology environment, GTRI takes all these different pieces, puts them together, and tries to elevate the customer to get them into a position where they’re cloud ready,” Moore said. “We work with cloud providers, the agency and the datacenters to make sure they can make that move in a way that both meets the needs of the IT organization and supports the agency mission. Bridging that gap is a main priority for GTRI.”

GTRI then considers the unique needs of the agency to craft a custom cloud migration plan. For instance, “One of the important things for DoD to remember when moving to the cloud is that they need a very resilient network,” Moore explained. “Many times this is achieved with a hybrid cloud. At DoD they will maintain some of their own infrastructure, but they’re also going to utilize cloud resources that allow disaster recovery. When their datacenters go down, resiliency enables the automatic move of workloads from their datacenters over into cloud protected datacenters to maintain a high level of serviceability.”

When considering cloud solutions, it’s critical to map these individual needs to the offerings of providers. That’s easier said than done and, again, can often be better executed with the support of a more experienced third-party cloud migration specialist.

GTRI can provide agencies with a roadmap to successfully migrate to the right provider and reap the full benefits of cloud. “GTRI has vast experience in implementing cloud solutions,” Moore said. “We can help DoD migrate to the cloud and get back to their core mission of national security. That’s our main priority. If we’re able to provide that support by transitioning departments’ information to the cloud, that frees defense personnel up to perform their job.”


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