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Military Services Are Transforming Cloud Operations

The Army and Navy are integrating new cloud strategies to drive technology adoption and utility.

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Technology leaders across the Defense Department are accelerating cloud adoption, taking a holistic approach, focusing on culture change and product value to improve readiness.

“If you just deliver the tools to buy cloud, you really haven’t done everything you need to do. Essentially, all our business processes have to change and so many of our skillsets need to change,” Paul Puckett, director of the Army’s Enterprise Cloud Management Office, said during ATARC’s Cloud Summit last week. “Culture change really needs to happen.”

As the Army takes next steps in its digital transformation journey, the Enterprise Cloud Management Office is honing in on change management, culture and digital literacy to enable the workforce to adopt new technologies faster, which will ultimately improve product usability and workforce efficiency.

“Our entire mission is to increase Army readiness and lethality, but we think that it’s really important to do that by enhancing our digital literacy,” Puckett said, “which is truly empowering our people, making our people better, giving them the tools that they need, challenging them appropriately, giving them the environments they need to thrive and giving them the skillsets to do so.”

Puckett said the second facet of successful technology adoption and integration is structuring data software around process transformation. The Army also sees value in a globally secure, multi-cloud ecosystem that serves the DOD, when and where the agency needs it.

“In order to do that at speed and scale, we think a globally dominant, secure cloud ecosystem is important,” Puckett said. “We think that they’re just really important for us to have some enterprise contract vehicles for the Army to adopt cloud on scale.”

To build this ecosystem, Puckett outlined the building blocks, which include creating an open architecture to foster collaboration, enhancing the ability to acquire cloud services at speed and scale and providing capabilities and skillsets to deliver outcomes. Puckett said that new concepts must deliver value and operational outcomes to successfully build enterprise services.

“Every single enterprise service starts with one mission outcome, and you have to demonstrate value there before you grow it and scale it,” Puckett said. “We’ve got to start somewhere, and it has to start somewhere that actually delivers value for someone.”

The Navy is looking to align with more commercial principles, moving away from the “lift-and-shift” approach to a strategic approach to modern service delivery and application development, said Travis Methvin, deputy director of business, strategy and resources at the Navy’s program executive office for digital and enterprise services.

The Navy has worked to transition its network services from being cloud tolerant to cloud enabled. Now, it’s looking to use commercial cloud as a force enabler, and over the next year, the Navy will push for a continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) and DevOps pipelines.

“Through those lessons learned and that maturation process, we’ve spent the last year and a half focusing on network and transport to make sure that that our applications, our users, could operate in commercial cloud,” Methvin said.

As the Navy leans into data and data strategies, Methvin said there will be a shift in the cloud principles, where they will be expressing the tactical edge capability to use as a force multiplier. The Navy will also hone in on security, taking a more holistic outlook for what it means to be secure.

“You really have to mix a technology engineering and business side in this approach to make sure you’re looking at the total cost of ownership and the total cost of impact of how we do operate in defense,” Methvin said. “Security is a broad term that you really need to look at the approach holistically for how you’re getting to control cloud.”

Scalability and flexibility will be key enablers as the DOD looks to transition to platforms of modern service delivery.

“If you start looking at how those key enabled services are being delivered, they are generally going to be delivered through commercial cloud services and platform services. That’s really what you’re going to see the Department of Navy working on over the next 18 months,” Methvin said.

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