Army Partnering with Air Force on Cloud Framework

DoD Pentagon Military

The U.S. Army is partnering with the Air Force to use the Common Cloud Environment as part of the Army’s Cloud Strategic Framework, said Thomas Sasala, the Army’s chief data officer, on April 9.

Sasala, speaking at FCW’s Cloud Summit, noted that collaboration was not in the Army’s initial planning.

“Our intention was, about a year ago or so, to set out and build a standard set of services and a variety of cloud service providers. We started that work, it was going OK, but we realized when we stepped back and looked long-term, that it wasn’t moving fast enough to get our applications into the cloud quickly enough for the amount of money that we had,” he explained.

“[Air Force] has a thing called CCE, or Common Cloud Environment. It’s up and operational today, it’s got an ATO, and they’ve already got a bunch of shared services today, so why would we duplicate that when we can just leverage what they’ve already done,” Sasala said.

He noted that launching common shared services has been a focus for both service branches to decrease the barrier to entry for application owners.

On application and data migration, Sasala said the Army is taking an approach of “ruthless rationalization.”

“Just because the application goes [to the cloud], doesn’t mean all of the data goes,” he said, citing the statistic that of the Army headquarters’ 1.8 petabytes of data, 60 percent hasn’t been accessed in five years. “We don’t want to take 1.8 petabytes and just stick it in a cloud service provider. It’s costly … but the transaction fees will kill us long-term.”

Sasala also cited an example in the Chief Human Capital Officer’s data. While the Army CHCO has 485,000 data elements, they estimate they only need 2,500 elements, and many existing ones are duplicative, he said.

He further illustrated his point by comparing cloud migration to swapping houses.

“The analogy I use is when you build a brand new house, you don’t want to move all your old furniture in, But more importantly, what we see people doing is … moving all their old trash cans with all their trash in it into the new house, and letting it stack up.”

Sasala emphasized the importance of the Army getting buy-in from leadership during cloud migration and application rationalization.

“We have this thing called the IT Oversight Council that we use as our primary governance body, that is chaired by the vice chief of staff of the Army and under secretary of the Army. That’s a very significant, important fact – that’s the number two and number four person in the Army … when people say ‘hey I can’t go, I need to stay in my old data center for XYZ reasons,’ you’ve got to go make that argument to a four-star general and a political appointee,” he said.

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