The US Military Considers Using Cloud Computing

It was recently announced that the US Defence Department was actively looking at their options for Cloud Computing.  In fact various military organizations around the country have test projects in place.  All departments in the military are attempting to deal with budget cuts and implementing cloud options could be a viable way to save money.

One of the top priorities to consider would of course be the cost. The Defence Department has huge resources which could make the cost sky rocket. However once this is successfully completed the savings will be large. It is important for the decision makers in the department to weigh both the pros and cons of making this important move.

Another huge consideration is that of security. This one issue is probably the one which is the most difficult to achieve at the moment. Data insecurities have happened in the past and these breaches have resulted in more requirements to properly set up safe systems.

Congress recently passed the 2012 National Defence Authorization Act which includes information on cloud computing and data centers. This Act has set standards for server and data center operations including the implementation of cloud computing.  It states that the costs must be lower and more security must be provided.

In March of each year beginning with 2012 and ending in 2016 reports must be presented to Congress to show costs both spent and saved. All of this data will provide invaluable insights into moving forward with any transitions to cloud computing for the military.

Currently $20 billion has been allocated for cloud computing migration alone. The US has a total IT budget of $80 billion and this amount could be reduced once cloud computing is in place.  The main focus of this is to close existing data centers by 40% by the year 2015. This one step should save them around $5 billion annually.

Creating new more efficient data centers would take years with an astronomical cost. With migrating to the Cloud costs can be reduced immediately once migration is finished and produce immediate savings.

The scalability of the cloud is one of the largest benefits. For example if a new energy savings program is implement by the government they don’t have to worry about down times if they see a surge in users. Instead the Cloud could easily accommodate this sudden change.

Another huge concern for the military would be having quick control over their cloud functions. The option of being able to turn services on and off immediately is critical if any types of attacks occur.

Developing a resource plan will be key to implement cloud computing for the military. They will need to identify all of their requirements to their proposed hosting company. It will then be up to the cloud hosting provider to see if they can safely implement all of these requirements.

To reduce the amount of cloud hosting space required the military has several divisions which are currently trying to consolidate their information. Their goal is to achieve a 75% reduction. They have test programs in place in all departments of the military especially when it comes to requiring information when divisions are on the move all the time. This includes things like giving pilots access to information at a moment’s notice regardless of their location. Another example is allowing access by cards to the correct people only to their authorized access points at all times.

On top of the specialized requirements the military will also need to establish more standardized features. This will ultimately allow them to control their network more effectively. This could also help them by allowing them to use mobile workers. No one has to be chained to a desk at the Pentagon in order to access any necessary information.

Cloud computing will enable the military to use civilian workers in a more efficient manner and differently to how they use civilians now.

The ultimate goal is to buy cloud computing services from the public sector. Robert J. Carey who is the deputy assistant secretary of defence has stated that using defence systems such as the U.S. Cyber Command could provide extra security while protecting the cloud.

While it is understood that moving to the cloud will be a long process things will also change between now and 2016. With more advances in technology the face of cloud computing will definitely be constantly changing. All companies military or otherwise will need to adapt to these changes in order to get the best value out of the cloud as possible.

On December 8, 2011 the FedRamp program was introduced and highlights the goals and benefits for the using cloud service providers.

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