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Hybrid Cloud: The Gateway to More Modern IT Infrastructure in DoD

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “Hybrid Cloud: The Gateway to More Modern IT Infrastructure in DoD.” Download the full report here

The Defense Department (DoD) is increasingly relying on a complex IT infrastructure to share intelligence data, protect warfighters and meet critical mission goals.

The department requires storage to house the trillions of data points that internal systems, external sensors and DoD personnel generate. DoD also requires computing power to fuel applications for logistics, business needs, cyber operations, as well as networking to connect all the applications and workloads that keep the entire government running.

“In the absence of modern services, warfighters and leaders are forced to choose between foregoing capabilities or slogging through a lengthy acquisition, rollout, and provisioning process,” DoD wrote in its draft statement of objects for its $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud contract.

In laying out his vision for the department, Deasy said he wants to leverage the benefits of multi-cloud and a multivendor environment, but the department currently operates with multiple clouds that are disparate and disjointed, according to DoD reports.

Another challenge DoD faces is an issue that has plagued both defense and civilian agencies: hiring and workforce training. They need the right talent to work on complex systems and to ensure the success of network modernization and cloud migration projects.

The problem is that replacing employees who either leave for private-sector jobs or new positions elsewhere in government can be a long, drawn-out process. And once new employees come on board, getting them up to speed can take months.

“There shouldn’t be this massively long training session on multiple vendor hardware,” said Rob Gordon, Deputy Chief Technology Officer, Office of Technology and Strategy, Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit at NetApp. “We should make that as transparent and as easy as possible.”

What DoD and other agencies need is a next-generation solution that goes beyond traditional hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) to a modern, flexible and cost-effective solution that enables employees to do their jobs more effectively, and without constraints.

The Solution: Enterprise-Scale Hybrid Cloud

Simply put, DoD needs modern technology that makes it easier for warfighters to access data and manage critical applications. Hybrid cloud infrastructure provides those capabilities and dovetails with the department’s existing and future cloud computing strategy.

What makes hybrid cloud unique is that it comprises two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The standardized technology that binds the clouds together also enables data and application portability.

“With hybrid cloud, the department can have a system that’s self-contained,” Gordon said. “This means users will have one point of contact to go to, and the solution does not require multiple types of engineers. It’s easy to run, easy to maintain and easy to upgrade.”

Hybrid cloud will also give DoD a single view of its computing, storage and network resources. That’s an immense value to the mission because users don’t have to manage various server racks and components that have to be interconnected.

As with any technology, agencies should be strategic about how they implement new solutions. For some agencies, the evolution to hybrid cloud infrastructure included early investments in first-generation HCI, which consolidates computing, storage and network resources into a single piece of commodity hardware.

When HCI first came on the scene, some early adopters were standing up separate HCI instances and creating even more silos across their IT environments. But as agencies are becoming more educated on the benefits and capabilities of next-generation solutions, they are taking advantage of the benefits that hybrid cloud can offer, particularly flexibility and the ability to scale and meet IT demands departmentwide.

Want to learn more about how hybrid cloud can benefit DoD and best practices for adoption? Download the full report here

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