Army to create cloud program office

The Army is gaining momentum in its overhaul of legacy systems, starting with new cloud and enterprise-as-a-service pilots and a new data strategy.

The Army is accelerating its network system modernization with a series of new cloud pathfinder and enterprise-IT-as-a-service pilots coming this year.

Army CIO Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford announced March 5 that the service would stand up a cloud program office in the next 90 days to put the service on track to leverage the Defense Department's CIO's cloud strategy.

Crawford, who spoke at the Association of the Army's March 5 breakfast event, said the force is in line with the DOD CIO's cloud strategy but isn't yet in a position to take advantage of the general and fit-for-purpose cloud capabilities expected with the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure platform procurement.

In addition to the new program office, two related contracts will help provide personnel services needed for cloud migration and shared services.

Additionally, there will be at least five cloud pathfinder efforts this year focused on tactical intelligence data, financial management applications, global force integration systems, logistics and maintenance and the tactical service and infrastructure.

Crawford said the idea is to start with small efforts rather than a long-term plan to ensure sustained success in a cloud migration and environment.

"A win for the Army 24 months from now is that we've grown the capacity, whether its contract writing or other areas to institutionally learn how to do this," he said. "And then we will be able to get to scale, and then we will be able to get to speed."

The Army also plans to put out a revised data strategy in the next 90 days, led by Tom Sasala, Army chief data officer and director of the Army Architecture Integration Center.

Enterprise-IT-as-a-service

Army officials first teased moving to enterprise-IT-as-a-service in February, and Crawford confirmed with a detailed preview of what's to come.

The Army's foray into enterprise-IT-as-a-service will begin with three pilots in 2019, starting with Army Futures Command's headquarters in Austin, Texas. Crawford said six to eight pilots will be launched in 2020 at significant readiness-central post camps and stations.

Crawford outlined three guiding principles: delivering IT at a commercial standard or better, modernizing faster by scaling industry best practices across the service and improving defense of Army networks and data. 

The impetus behind the strategic shift is that to meet current and future warfighting needs, the Army must advance enterprise network modernization, which would take until well after 2030 at the current pace, Crawford said.

That's because approximately 70 percent of the Army's network infrastructure is at or near end of life and upgrades are made in sporadic and incremental spurts across 13 capability areas.

"This year, we might show up and touch your SIPR infrastructure. Next year, we might show up and touch your NIPR, the following year, we might show up and touch the five regional hub nodes," Crawford said.

But that upgrade strategy will also change as the Army moves away from an incremental approach to a prioritized one, he said. That means instead of updating infrastructure at all 288 post camps and stations, about 50 of the most important readiness platforms would get the attention.

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