Cloud Hosting and The US Defense Industry, Whose Winning the Hearts and Minds of Leadership and Security?

With shrinking budgets many would wonder how the US Defense Department will maintain the infrastructure necessary to sustain the force. IT infrastructure supports everything from the acquisition, logistics and sustainable of something as simple as a bandage to something as complex as an aircraft carrier. It would simply not be possible to look away from the IT resources that have become a critical component of our ability to operate yet the cost of operations has never been higher. The DoD finds itself in a bit of a quandary and many organizations are rushing to consolidate data centers, reduce support or decommission older systems.

So what, you might ask, are they to do to weather this storm? I personally believe that the commercial world has the solution, The Cloud, and you better believe that defense contractors are all scrambling to build a show of knowledge and flashy prototypes targeted at courting the fancy of those in the DoD already looking towards this path. One might suggest that the federal government world have already embraced the Cloud however the DoD is a different animal with it's own mindset. Cloud Computing Providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) are feverishly working to overcome a mountain of security folks clamoring over the challenges that the Cloud presents and the hoards of naysayers touting everything from concerns over intellectual property rights to those who feel like the only people to be trusted with DoD information is the DoD. For those that work in this industry it's well known that the DoD's IT expertise ranges from the best in the business to the outright embarrassing with a tendency towards the latter. None the less it is my belief that the numbers will win out and that the corporate world will triumph moving from a service industry supporting DoD infrastructure to providing the infrastructure outright.

In June 2012 The DoD CIO released their Could Computing Strategy suggesting that the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) lead the charge in establishing a brokerage for Cloud services be it from a commercial source or an DISA service offering yet to be established. This flies in the face of other offerings like that established by the Department of the Navy, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR)program in cooperation with AWS for example who is already several years ahead of DISA. The DoD has an internal battle for ownership of the Cloud however here again I believe that thee who hold the operational viable stick will win the war. SPAWAR has nearly gained approval for their Cloud brokerage service knocking down many of the security barriers to Cloud Hosting of systems and I believe that they will set the rules of the road for the DoD's future IT strategy.

Even though many of the security barriers have been knocked down or are soon to fall, would-be system owners still have to overcome the naysayers within their organizations. In my opinion this is the next big challenge facing Cloud Hosting of DoD systems. I believe that in the coming years Cloud Hosting will replace most of the unclassified data centers within the DoD and providers like AWS will see significant market growth as a result. DISA, who has been appointed the lead by the DoD CIO stands to loose a huge chunk of their core business which will result in resistance from within and in my opinion render their efforts to facilitate Cloud brokerage unsuccessful. I believe we will see several DoD Cloud brokerages emerge and a number opportunities available for the Defense industry to support.