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How Education, Training Are Shaping the Navy’s Cloud Priorities

As the Department of the Navy eases its way into the cloud, prioritizing education and training for application owners and sailors who will have to interface with these systems must be a priority, according to one of the service’s cloud experts.

Those lessons learned are coming through ongoing pilot projects, some of which are now moving to a production environment, said Susan Shuryn, Cloud Computing Lead in the Navy’s Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems. “Through the piloting process you learn a lot about what to do and what not to do.”

Speaking at GovLoop’s recent Cloud and Cyber Combine to Protect Gov Data, Shuryn said it has taken time to strike the proper balance when deciding how much responsibility the government should maintain over its data despite it being in the cloud. That’s still a work in progress. But one thing is certain: “We are not giving up the data,” Shuryn said. “It is ours to protect.”

When asked if the Navy plans to take advantage of the Defense Information System Agency’s new milCloud 2.0 offering, Shuryn noted there are various options the service is considering.

“We are advocating that the application owners have a choice based on the level of sensitivity of data,” she said. MilCloud 2.0 is an on-premises, private community cloud environment that will provide Infrastructure-as-a-Service for mission partners. The offering will support sensitive information, specifically unclassified information that requires safeguarding and dissemination controls.

As the Navy settles on which cloud offerings work best to support its needs, there will be ongoing education and training to understand what data it has, the classification levels of that data and the target users of particular applications. The Navy wants to keep more sensitive data on-premise, Shuryn said.

One of the goals with cloud is to work out any kinks and show a proof of concept shore-based before applying this technology to ships, she added. Training sailors and others who will have to interface with these systems while at sea is another challenge the Navy must address.

“That has to happen, and my perspective is we are behind on that,” she said. “We really need to push that on a high priority.”

Despite the advancements in cloud capabilities and security, there are still real concerns that must be addressed, said Ron Zalkind, Head of Innovation, Cloud Security at Cisco Systems.

“You still have to design for, build for and test [security],” Zalkind said during the panel discussion. “There are some things about cloud that [are] not magical.”

Safety must be baked into the systems, as is the case with any other system or application the government uses. Some agencies are still coming to terms with the fact their on-premise technical environments are often more complex and less reliable than what is being offered in the cloud today.

Another factor for agencies to consider is the growing demand from employees and the public for accessible services over the internet. “Most of your user base, whether you know it or not, is using some sort of cloud computing,” Zalkind said.

For agencies that are on the fence about cloud, he explained that starting with a small project can help you work out any kinks, show value quickly and glean substantive lessons for future projects.

To learn more about cloud computing efforts across government, check out similar GovLoop articles here

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