Observations on Air Force Cloud Investment in FY 2019

Published: April 11, 2018

Federal Market AnalysisUSAFBudgetCloud ComputingInformation Technology

Based on an analysis of the DOD’s fiscal 2019 budget request, the Air Force intends to spend almost $735M on programs utilizing cloud technology.

Every Spring, Deltek’s Federal Market Analysis team takes a thorough look at the Department of Defense’s Procurement and Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation budget requests for the fiscal year to come. Using a set of keywords, FMA identifies programs that invest in certain technologies of importance to the contractor community. These technology “verticals” include cloud computing, big data analytics, cybersecurity/weaponry, and others. FMA’s analysis of the DOD’s fiscal 2019 budget request is still underway, but some portions of it are complete, allowing for the publication of some preliminary results. For the Air Force, these results include the Service’s intention to spend almost $735M on programs that use cloud technology in one way or another.

Identifying the specific cloud spend in any program is impossible due to the vague way that the Air Force, and all of DOD for that matter, reports its program data. Readers should keep in mind, therefore, that the numbers presented here are the requested budgets for programs that plan to use cloud technology in one way or another (e.g., storage, testing, or delivering a capability, etc.). The numbers presented here should not be considered the Air Force’s cloud budget for FY 2019. They are best considered a signpost indicating how and where Air Force program offices intend to use cloud and the potential amounts they could spend on it.

Largest Programs

The table below lists the largest Air Force programs by total dollars – largest to smallest –with a cloud component that FMA could identify. The dollar totals shown are from the Procurement and RDT&E budget requests, meaning that the work involved could be new and available to contractors if a contract for it is competed.

Summaries of Top 5 Programs

  • Network Infrastructure Transformation ($362.5M for Procurement, $1M for RDT&E): Air Force’s Network Infrastructure Transformation effort modernizes the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) infrastructure to improve data ingest, transfer, and storage capabilities while migrating the network to a cloud architecture.
  • Air & Space Operations Center Weapons System Modifications ($106M for RDT&E): In FY 2019, the AOC requested additional funds to continue the migration of its AOC 10.1 legacy system to a cloud-enabled environment. Additional work includes related application development in a cloud environment.
  • Joint Common Services ($52.4M for RDT&E): The JCS is part of the DOD’s effort to create a Military Cyberspace Operations Platform (MCOP) that enables offensive and defensive cyber operations. The cloud component of this work continues development of the Unclassified Amazon Web Services (AWS) GovCloud and Big Data Platform (BDP) that enables Cyber Mission Forces teams to identify anomalous behavior on the DOD’s Information Network (DODIN).
  • Acquisition and Command Support Integration ($20.5M for RDT&E): This investment is part of the Enterprise Information Services (EIS) portfolio of integrated programs/technologies/services that sustain Air Force Information Management and Knowledge Operations. Integration of portfolios will utilize cloud hosting services provided by the Common Computing Environment (CCE).
  • Spacecraft Protection Technology/Threat Warning Research ($18.6M for RDT&E): This program, which tracks in-orbit objects like satellites and debris will investigate advanced methods of providing net-centric space command and control architectures, including cloud-based paradigms.

Concluding Thought

If one thing becomes clear from this short survey of cloud efforts it is that the Air Force is not shy about using cloud-based technology for mission critical capabilities. The myth for several years now is that the Department of Defense does not intend to use cloud for mission critical functions. The data provided here shows that is not true. The DOD as a whole, and the Air Force in particular, will use cloud capabilities to the furthest extent possible, as long as security concerns are adequately addressed. Estimates of the potential value of contracts like the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) should therefore take into account both unclassified business systems and back-office functions as well as mission critical capabilities the DOD might wish to host.