Slow progress forces Navy to change strategies for cloud, data centers

The Department of the Navy isn’t making as much progress on data center consolidation and moving to the cloud as it wants to. So the Navy is moving the initiatives under a new owner and coming down hard on those who are standing in the way.

“Later this year, we will make an organizational change to our approach to data center consolidation. The Data Center and Application Optimization (DCAO) program office will move from under Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) headquarters to under Program Executive Office-Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS) as a separate entity or program office,” said John Zangardi, the Navy’s deputy assistant secretary for command, control, computers, intelligence, information operations and space and acting chief information officer. “This will better align consolidation efforts with network efforts and more fully leverage the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract.

So we will build on their application experience. The DCAO will be responsible for establishing a working model for Navy cloud hosting service brokerage. This will be for the delivery of application hosting via commercial and federal agencies. Culturally, we have to make this shift from a mistaken belief that all our data has to be near us and somewhere where I can do and hug the server, instead of someplace where I don’t know in the cloud. This is a big shift for many within the department. It’s not going to be an easy transition.”

Since 2012, the Navy has made some progress. Zangardi, who spoke at the 14th annual Naval IT Day sponsored by AFCEA’s Northern Virginia chapter, said over the last three years, the Navy has consolidated 290 systems and apps across 45 sites. But overall, he said getting bases and commands to move faster just isn’t happening.

The Navy plans to officially move the data center consolidation office into the PEO-EIS office in July.

Testing the cloud access point

Knowing the difficulties and challenges over the past few years, Zangardi said he’s taking several steps to help ease the pain.

First, he said his office picked three data centers that are lagging behind and required them to develop a plan to consolidate and move their data to a centralized data center.

Second, the Navy is rationalizing large scale apps. Zangardi said too often people hold their applications and servers close.

“I spend a lot of time thinking about the cloud access point (CAP) and our data centers. My objective is to move stuff as quickly as possible. The applications we are looking at right now to move to our cloud access point, the ones I’m most interested in moving right now, would come out of the N4 world, so we are talking about things like maintenance or aviation type of stuff so think logistics,” he said. “We’re also looking at enterprise resource planning (ERP). Can we move our ERP to a cloud type of solution to drive in more efficiencies? I think most of the things we are looking at, at least upfront, would be business sort of applications.”

The third way to ease the pain is by using pilot programs to get commands and bases comfortable with the idea of letting go of their servers and data.

“PEO-EIS and SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic are piloting a cloud access point in conjunction with the commercial cloud service provider. It’s currently operating under an interim authority to test,” Zangardi said. “These organizations have the right expertise to develop the approach for the department to leverage the cloud. However, the CAP pilot is in its early stages. Essentially right now we are doing table top testing.

Our objective over the next year is to move from a pilot effort to what I would term a productionized commercial cloud. What do I mean by productionized? Simply to me it means an industry leveraged approach that can scale to demand from users. This capability should be secure, provide lower costs for storage and data and facilitate mobility.”

One big question about this consolidation effort is how to break out the 17 or 19 data centers that fall under the NGEN Intranet, and put them under the PEO- EIS team with the other data centers.

Zangardi said the Navy is considering an approach to this, but it’s still in the early stages.

Private cloud works just fine

While the Navy is open to using commercial or public clouds, the Marine Corps is going its own way.

Several Marine Corps IT executives seemed signal that the organization will follow closely to what the Navy is doing, but put their own twist on the initiative.

One often talked about example of this is the Marines decision to not move to the Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) that is part of the Joint Information Environment (JIE) until at least version 2 comes online in 2017. Marine Corps CIO Gen. Kevin Nally said the decision not use the initial versions of JRSS is because Marine Corps’ current security set up is better and cheaper than version 1 or 1.5.

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Originally Posted at: Slow progress forces Navy to change strategies for cloud, data centers

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