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Navy, Marine Corps transferring data to commercial cloud

Mar. 13, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
(Richard Duval / Microsoft)

Commercial cloud providers like Amazon will play a key role in helping the Navy and Marine Corps close data centers and reduce more than a billion dollars in IT spending, according to a Navy official.

The services are shifting much of their public data to Amazon’s cloud, and officials are seeking other opportunities to move more military data to commercial solutions.

“To get where I want to go, I’ve got to get over 50 percent of my data in some type of commercial solution,” said Terry Halvorsen, Department of the Navy chief information officer. “That’s where we’re heading.”

The model could involve hosting military data in a public cloud or in a commercial facility designated for government use, said Halvorsen, who spoke Thursday at the Data Center Brainstorm event in Washington. Partnering with other agencies is another options.

“I think there is a big belief out here that we’re not going to do anything with” the Defense Information Systems Agency, he said. “Just to set the record straight, we have a lot of stuff at DISA.”

He said DISA’s cloud email solution is priced competitively, and it’s being considered. There is also a place for standard data centers that are not cloud solutions, and finding the right blend of solutions is key to meeting the mission and driving down costs.

The services are driving $1.3 billion out of the IT budget related to data center spending, he said. “To help us do that, we’ve taken the money.”

Halvorsen has a dashboard view of the 150 data centers slated to be closed. While there are smaller centers that could eventually be targeted, the focus now is closing centers that will yield the greatest savings. Part of those savings will come from reducing the amount of data and applications.

To do so, the services have to understand what data they have in their data centers, and what are the security risks around that data. How are the data packaged, and are they stored in applications that can be modernized? What are the data being used for, and how many times are the same data elements used across multiple databases?

“You’ve got to get rid of them” to save money, Halvorsen said of data center applications.

Know the cost of labor and what that labor is providing is also key.

Industry can expect to see acquisitions related to data center consolidation as the Navy and Marine Corps look to increase competition and partner with other large commercial cloud vendors. Halvorsen stressed the need for industry to better understand the department’s needs and more accurately describe what capabilities they are providing.

Buzz words like modernization, rationalizaton and consolidation don’t get to the heart of what’s being done, he said. The government also needs to be more transparent with industry when it comes to security standards and other areas.

Related: Navy eyes commercial facilities for data hosting

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