Many businesses have taken advantage of enterprise-class cloud computing solutions to beef up their own internal security systems and improve the efficacy of their business continuity plans. Cloud computing services offer better cybersecurity protection in rapidly changing digital environments. Now, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), a combat support branch of the U.S. Department of Defense, is investing more in the cloud in order to better secure aerospace and defense programs that rely on maximum digital security.

In a recent interview with Defense News, Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins Jr​., the director of DISA, spoke to the agency's pursuit of enterprise cloud solutions. The organization recently partnered with the Defense Logistics Agency to reduce IT spending 20 percent. Hawkins said that cutting expenditures while ensuring optimal, cost-effective development and delivery of critical aerospace and defense assets and solutions is no easy task, but the organization is utilizing cloud computing solutions to slim down their internal operations. The first cloud initiatives included email service consolidation, as DISA was previously using a disjointed, multi-client messaging system. They also virtualized many applications and worked toward moving more of their customer relationship management (CRM) capacities to a hosted environment as well. Hawkins highlighted the potential benefits that the cloud can offer military agencies, saying that increased adoption can improve relationships with vendors and streamline communication to make meetings more productive.

"We also have to address the level of reciprocity that goes with the security requirements so that we don't have a particular user or vendor having to go through the same process over and over again," Hawkins told Defenses News. "That has been one of the problems, whether you work with one service or another, the reciprocity is just not there. So this is one of the areas that I see as goodness as we become the cloud service broker for the services, in that we can ensure that reciprocity is adhered to rather than somebody coming in and appending a similar requirement that is just colored a different way."

Mobile, "muck" influence government agency cloud moves
In a different piece for Defense News, John Garing, the former director for strategic planning and information at DISA, wrote that while he knew moving operations to the cloud saved money, he believed cost savings shouldn't be the foremost reason behind making decisions that could affect national security. However, he became convinced that cloud was the right way to go for two reasons. Garing wrote that increased mobility had presented challenges for the industry that couldn't be easily resolved using legacy computing and communication models.

"The days of being tethered to a desktop or a data center are going away fast, if they are not already gone," Garing stated. "Every day each of us uses clouds as we work, have fun and live. Cloud computing is a literally a way of life."

The second consideration influencing government cloud migration, Garing stated, is the "muck" – tedious daily IT operations that CIOs don't want their departments to perform. As digital needs grow, so too do the laundry list of IT demands, and the practice of internally satisfying "IT things" is becoming unsustainable for many agencies. Not only does the cloud provide convenience, it offers IT personnel the freedom to work on new projects.