One of the proven benefits of cloud computing is the ability to pool information among members of an organization that do not share a geographical location. The advantages of onsite data storage can be lost to those who do not conduct business in a single setting. The U.S. Army has personal and bases scattered across the globe. The task before the Army’s logistic division, to keep all of these separate entities communicating, sharing and updating information, is monumental. A recent report released by the logistics division reveals the Army will be looking to expanding the cloud’s role in logistics maintenance.
The Army and the cloud
Logistics Support Activities processes army inventory distribution, business intelligence and logistics data. It is used by over 65,000 different army personnel and processes 40 million unique data transactions a day. The Army began using hybrid cloud data storage for LOGSA last year. Since implementing the cloud-based data system, LOGSA has increased the reliability of data while reducing downtime and cost, now paying about 50 percent of what the previous model was charging, according to Defense One Live. Other branches of the Department of Defense have found similar success with cloud based options.
The new cloud computing strategy
The Army Chief Information Officer, Lt. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, recently released the Army Cloud Computing Strategy. The document outlined the DOD’s plans to implement new cloud-based technologies and the benefits this new system will have for the U.S. military. Some of the benefits include: cloud creates a platform for consistent cyber solutions, centralized locations can be accessed by the entire DOD Information Network, utilizing offsite data storage allows military to move away from creating and maintaining own hardware and cloud-based technologies improve flexibility to adapt new systems. Ferrell states in the strategy’s forward that the goal of this new technology is to ensure the Army’s IT capabilities remain efficient, secure and adaptable to innovation.
Deputy CIO, Gary C. Wang, shared a blog post where he declared that in the coming weeks, the Army will release a Commercial Cloud Services Provider policy guidance report. This document will outline procedure for using off-premise commerce service providers for military cloud computing. This document will work in addition to the updated cloud security requirements the DOD detailed for commercial providers in January.
Obstacles to cloud adoption
Some are surprised by the Army’s willingness to adopt this emerging information technology. Earlier this year, Nextgov published an article about the Pentagon’s resistance to host classified data in offsite cloud storage. The article referred to fears that the cloud is not as secure as data servers in the DOD’s physical location. This is a common concern with the adoption of offsite storage technologies but it is a concern the DOD is taking steps to overcome.
The Pentagon is currently using cloud computing technologies and has started to test the waters when it comes to using the servers to house classified data. Nextgov suggested the most likely option will be for a commercial provider to install a private cloud into the DOD environment where the department can maintain control. This will be the first of many steps to adapting the most sensitive of military information.