DHS Components Migrating to Cloud as Major Data Center Closes, Official Says

With Department of Homeland Security (DHS) looking to close its Data Center 2 (DC2) by June 2020, DHS Infrastructure Services Division Executive Director Carlene Ileto provided progress updates indicating that most DHS components are in the process of or planning to move their data to the cloud by the DC2 closure deadline.

At an ACT-IAC event today, Ileto said that with DHS closing one of its two data centers, the department is encouraging its components to move elements to either Data Center 1 (DC1) or the cloud. Once DC2’s contract ends in June 2020, Ileto added that components with their data stored in that center can choose to remain on DC2, but that will require DHS to either extend the DC2 contract or for components to create their own new contracts with the DC2 vendor – a move that Ileto stressed would be costly for components.

Even though DHS has held discussions about a DC2 contract extension, Ileto said that the ultimate goal is data center optimization and consolidation, so departing from DC2 would align with that goal.

“Right now, we’re holding our components’ feet to the fire for June 2020,” Ileto said.

The forecast for component transition to the cloud looks positive, however. Ileto said that 20 percent of DHS components have already moved to the cloud and are “doing well,” and 44 percent have planned to complete their cloud migration between January and June 2020. Overall, Ileto said that 70 percent of components are “planning to utilize the cloud, whether it’s the cloud or hybrid-cloud solution.”

Meanwhile, 10 percent of components have confirmed that they will remain on DC2 past the June 2020 date, and another 3 to 7 percent are still deciding what to do. And even though many of the components look to move to the cloud eventually, Ileto said 54 percent will store data on DC1.

Ileto still holds concerns about the migration, however. She said that between March and June 2020, 14 components will try to exit DC2 and migrate to the cloud, and the DC2 vendor only has “so many resources,” so although Ileto is looks forward to optimizing and consolidating DHS data centers on the cloud, her sentiment remains cautiously optimistic.

As components plan to migrate, DHS Information Sharing and Services Office Platforms and Solutions Division Manager Tom McCarty added at the ACT-IAC event that his team is developing platforms and a strategy that will help components store their data as they transition away from DC2 to either DC1, the cloud, or other alternative options.

“Our strategy has been to build up platforms, get them ready, do the analysis of the systems, do all the intake, decide which way they should go, and sometimes the answer is, ‘hey, you should go to another physical data center, another colocation site,’” McCarty said. “We’re trying to help [components] make those decisions about what’s best for them.”

In February, DHS released a request for information announcing that it wanted to consolidate DC2 with a hybrid-multicloud strategy, and Ileto has said that she has so far received 105 responses from industry that she is reviewing. Roughly three-fourths have highlighted vendor-specific services, while one-fourth of responses focused on industry best practices. Many responses focused on FedRAMP feedback, she added.

“We’re in the final stages of reviewing all of the information,” Ileto said. “We’re going to capitalize on the innovation of our industry partners and, of course, best practices. Many of our responses … were quite thoughtful and really helped us to identify what we need to do as far as our enterprise modernization approach [goes].”

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