Cloud Initiatives in the Army’s FY 2021 Operations and Maintenance Budget Request
Published: March 11, 2020
Army anticipates spending $101M in Operations and Maintenance dollars on cloud projects in FY 2021.
Army technology leaders have been in the news a lot recently touting the Service’s new plans for enterprise cloud adoption. After what looked like a promising start toward the cloud several years ago, the Army’s adoption of the technology floundered amid failed enterprise initiatives and a refocusing of budget dollars on priority weapons and vehicle platform upgrades. Now the Army appears to be generating new momentum as far as cloud adoption is concerned. Evidence for this can be found in the Army’s Operations and Maintenance budget request. It describes a number of initiatives that will direct more than $100M dollars to cloud-related efforts in fiscal year 2021.
Army’s cloud plans in the O&M budget focus on 3 areas in particular: business systems, cyber operations, and enterprise services. Here are the details and requested budgets for each of those areas.
Army Contract Writing System ($7.32M): Developed in partnership with CGI Federal under contract #W52P1J17D0031 awarded for $134M in FY 2017, ACWS O&M requirements will include software sustainment, the renewal of software licenses, and cloud hosting services. The Army’s Product Manager Army Contract Writing System plans to roll out what it calls the Minimum Viable Solution (MVS) at several locations as part of the ramp to Initial Operational Capability (IOC).
General Fund Enterprise Business System ($1.52M): O&M funding supports the migration of GFEBS to its new government cloud host. Current hosting requirements remain for the current environment and data centers until the new system is fully commissioned.
Cyberspace Operations ($4.8M): O&M activities include consolidating resources for cyber analytics cloud hosting, technical refresh of current capabilities, system maintenance, and software license renewals.
Cybersecurity Activities ($-94.5M): The decrease in funding is caused by a number of factors, including anticipated contract efficiencies and the ongoing migration of installation-level applications and systems to Army enterprise or commercial cloud hosts which the Army anticipates will make them more secure than at present.
Enterprise Services ($87.1M): Increases funding to migrate Army enterprise applications to cloud environments, including the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, milCloud 2.0, and other cloud services providers contracted by Army commands. Presumably, this funding will provide for contracted support. The ES budget also establishes funding for the long-term sustainment of the Army enterprise cloud environment, a construct that is still emerging, and which is under the supervision of the Army Enterprise Cloud Program Office. O&M funding will also provide service support, portal access, email, voice and collaboration services. Anticipated work includes “enterprise architecture development enabling interoperability and secure information sharing, … resources for the management of enterprise-wide data center and application consolidation, [and] the infrastructure for cloud-based collaboration, development, evaluation, publishing, and access for Army software solutions.”
Army’s O&M funding for cloud projects reveals several interesting dimensions of cloud computing adoption by the Service. In the first place, the success building and standing up the Army Contract Writing System is a big victory for an Army that has not experienced much success in its cloud-related endeavors. The success of ACWS will have knock-on effects throughout the Army business system environment as it simplifies the number of complex interfaces used by Army personnel and enhances audit readiness. The ACWS will also eventually replace the Standard Procurement System/Procurement Desktop-Defense and Procurement Automated Data and Document System.
Cyber-related investments reveal a final acceptance by the Army that systems hosted with commercial partners will be more secure than those remaining in legacy environments. This is a big change from opinion about cloud common at the Department of Defense until recent years. Cloud-based analytics will also help the Army understand and defend against cyber attacks.
Finally, the enterprise services program shows that Army will prioritize migrating enterprise systems to the cloud in its upcoming push. Firms providing cloud engineering and migration services may find opportunities supporting the Army’s efforts.