Defense bill puts data center consolidation plans at risk

The 2012 defense bill contains language that could block DOD-DISA partnerships in cloud and enterprise e-mail.

Provisions in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act could hamper ongoing Defense Department efforts to consolidate data centers and move to a cloud-based enterprise e-mail program hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency.

The legislation calls on DOD CIO Teri Takai to provide comprehensive reporting on data center consolidation efforts, savings and in particular performance, including the use of commercial technologies.

According to the bill, DOD must migrate its data from government-administered cloud services, such as those currently being provided by the Defense Information Systems Agency, and instead use private-sector offerings “that provide a better capability at a lower cost with the same or greater degree of security.”


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The bill also strips fiscal 2012 funding from the Army’s enterprise e-mail program pending a report from the Army secretary detailing acquisition strategy and showing that fair competition was used in the implementation of the enterprise e-mail program, on which the Army has been working with DISA for more than a year.

The legislation also orders the Army to designate its enterprise e-mail program as a major acquisition program and provide formal oversight, and mandates an assessment by the Army Audit Agency to determine cost savings from any alternatives to the current DISA-led program.

Takai must also provide Congress with an analysis of the potential for the Army and DISA’s program to be used across DOD, and of how the other services are administering e-mail services. Additionally, proof of fair and open competition will be required in her report, due within six months of NDAA’s enactment.

The legislation appears to be in direct conflict with DOD’s recent announcement of a “DISA first” strategy that would make DISA the go-to resource for enterprise IT services.

So far, DOD has shuttered at least 55 data centers under consolidation plans, and at a Dec. 16 briefing Army CIO/G-6 Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence said 300,000 accounts have been migrated to enterprise e-mail. The migration of more than 1.5 million accounts is expected to be complete in spring 2012. It’s not clear if the NDAA’s provisions would affect those efforts.

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