Cloud Computing in DOD’s New Digital Modernization Strategy

Published: December 11, 2019

Federal Market AnalysisCloud ComputingDEFENSEInformation TechnologyPolicy and Legislation

Commercial partners providing consulting and technical expertise are likely to be required.

A few months ago, the Department of Defense released a new Information Resources Management Strategic Plan for 2019-2023. While providing a traditional IT strategic plan, the new DOD IRM plan also serves as the department’s Digital Modernization Strategy. As such it provides the policy basis for DOD’s strategy to develop a seamless IT environment that maximizes the use of data for decision making and warfighting. Enterprise cloud computing adoption rests at the heart of modernizing the DOD’s IT infrastructure and of increasing the resiliency and lethality of U.S. military power. DOD’s planned end-state is an enterprise cloud infrastructure that reaches into degraded, even disconnected, environments to deliver artificial intelligence-augmented command and control capabilities.

The strategy is organized around four goals, listed as follows:

  • Modernization Goal #1 Innovate for Competitive Advantage
  • Modernization Goal #2 Optimize for Efficiency and Improved Capability
  • Modernization Goal #3 Improve Cyber Defense Posture
  • Modernization Goal #4 Cultivate Digital Workforce

Cloud investment falls under Goal #1, Objective 2 – Delivering a DOD Enterprise Cloud Environment to Leverage Commercial Innovation. There is, however, much more to developing an enterprise cloud environment than simply awarding the contract for DOD’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI). The following elements of the strategy are listed below with suggestions included on what types of related goods and services might be required.

  • Deliver a general purpose enterprise cloud. Referring clearly to the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure here, the requirement depends on the procurement of secure, commercially provided Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service (IaaS/PaaS).
  • Identify common capabilities that inform the creation of fit for purpose cloud environments. Determining the need for a “fit-for-purpose” cloud could require a number of supporting commercial skillsets, including consulting services, technical support services, and, once a fit-for-purpose capability is decided upon, procurement of it as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
  • Provide a DOD on premise cloud environment. DOD already has this in milCloud 2.0.
  • Establish an enterprise cloud office to enable the rapid acquisition of and migration to cloud capabilities. Yet to be created, an enterprise cloud PMO will likely require commercial program management support, migration support services, and acquisition support services to put technical contracts into place. These are prime areas of potential opportunity for small businesses.
  • Manage the DOD cloud portfolio. Program management support could be required here.
  • Develop policy and guidance to modernize application development using lean and agile practices. DOD may need help from a commercial partner with expertise in software development.
  • Develop and deploy a DevSecOps environment that enables application development and accreditation at speed and scale integrated with defensive cyberspace operations. Software development expertise would be required here as well, but when it comes to the testing environment itself a PaaS capability is necessary. This could mean use of the JEDI infrastructure or another cloud capability.
  • Develop policy and guidance on the effective application of DevSecOps principles. DOD might need some consulting support here.
  • Enable resilient operation of DOD functions on commercial cloud infrastructures. Some commercial technical expertise is likely to be required to reach this objective.

DOD’s IRM, 2019-2023 plan offers the possibility of investment in many areas, ranging from consulting and technical support, to the provision of classic cloud services like PaaS and SaaS. As large providers of IaaS increasingly lock-up DOD’s infrastructure spending, industry partners will need to look elsewhere for services opportunities. The IRM Plan hints at where these might be found.