Army moves closer to private cloud with release of RFP

Private cloud plan key to reducing data centers, and also aims save money and energy while beefing up cybersecurity.

The Army took another step toward its goal of a private cloud computing environment with the July 15 release of a request for proposals. The move is a central part of the department’s plans to consolidate its data centers from 200 to less than 20.

The private cloud program also aims save money and energy while beefing up cybersecurity, and the Army is looking to industry for expert guidance.

“It is expected to reduce cost while improving access and security. The Army cannot afford to continue doing business as usual and will embrace lessons learned from the private sector to achieve cost savings,” according to a statement of work accompanying the RFP.

“The vision is to provide private cloud computing capabilities in a manner that employs existing, best of breed, commercially available services to ensure rapid migration, easily expandable and adaptable cloud computing services, cost advantages, and responsive support services that enhance the end user experience, while fully in compliance with the information assurance requirements of the Defense Department,” the SOW said.

The contract, which could total $249 million over five years, will be carried out in two suites. “The first will provide savings by leveraging fixed facility private cloud computing capacity, primarily in the commercial marketplace. The second suite will acquire mobile, containerized data centers that can meet urgent needs for the Army in contingency operations or where rapid or temporary cloud computing is needed,” according to RFP documents.

The two-suite plan marks a departure from traditional DOD procurement, the Army acknowledged in the work statement. “These two suites will use Army Private Cloud services instead of the traditional approach of acquiring equipment and separately paying for consulting services to operate the environment,” the document said.

The Army appears to be considering the possibility of a commercially owned and operated data center, also a departure from DOD tradition, reported InformationWeek.

In that case, the private cloud would be kept separate from public computing environments used by contractors for security purposes, the work statement noted. It will be available on both the unclassified NIPRNet and classified SIPRNet.

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