DoD Cloud Exchange: Army’s Paul Puckett on Cloud Agility Gains





When the Army upgraded its Enterprise Cloud Management Agency — replacing the word “office” with “agency” — it was more than a name change. It was a deliberate elevation of unit functions. The change signifies the importance of cloud computing to the service’s modernization efforts and to the Army’s mission itself.

“ECMA’s goal is to accelerate the adoption of cloud computing,” ECMA Director Paul Puckett said at the Federal News Network’s second annual conference. DoD Cloud Exchange.

Until the original office was established, the Army’s cloud adoption efforts occurred in “sort of bursts of activity,” Puckett added. “Usually it happened mainly on a program-by-program basis.” That is to say, not strategically.

Then, the Army leadership determined that the cloud “is fundamental to what the Army is trying to go, around everything in the digital age,” he said.

Today, ECMA is a field operating agency focused on providing capabilities to the entire Army. It reports to the Office of the Chief of Army Information. The organization’s goals are less about cloud infrastructure, which in many cases comes from commercial vendors, and more about supported capabilities, Puckett said.

Set digital orientation based on Army mission relevance

“You don’t hear a lot of different things about cloud infrastructure in this vision. Because really, we believe that the cloud enables this vision. he said. The vision itself is to “deliver digital overmatch through data-driven results at the speed of mission relevance”.

Other objectives flow from this primary need. Puckett said the first of these was reducing the time it takes to bring new systems into use, which in turn stems from faster development, testing, user feedback, and getting approval. green light through the Authorization to Operate (ATO) process.

“Think of actual user acceptance testing, interoperability testing. A lot of these processes are pretty cumbersome today,” Puckett said. to design these systems to take advantage of cloud infrastructure.”

This, he said, will allow for adaptability and the ability to pivot quickly as circumstances change. The cloud becomes “this forced function for us to reimagine and redesign our systems, our services, our business processes,” he said.

Cost transparency is another ECMA goal, Puckett said. This is important for cloud users across the military, because nothing happens outside of a budget context. Consuming commercial cloud services presents a different cost pattern than operating an agency data center, he pointed out.

Access to the same army technology tools in the office and in the field

Puckett has made it clear that the cloud is not just for business and logistics systems. The military wants the cloud to improve military capabilities as well, he said. This will happen as the corporate and tactical domains become more unified on a common network using common or shared data. This notion is embedded not only in the Army’s cloud strategy, but also in its unified network plan, Puckett said.

“I think that’s part of the achievement when it comes to cloud infrastructures. There is this global digital infrastructure that needs to be carefully designed so that we can now respond in real time,” he said.

“Now I can actually get the whole world army to operate certain capabilities of the machine from the same exact base configuration, and I have the ability to adapt in real time with new capabilities and services to improve the mission based on the data that I have learned. This is absolutely essential.

The cloud-hosted services ECMA aims to provide will support the Army’s strategy by providing the digital transformation element it needs, Puckett said. The reform strategy consists of three lines of effort: modernization, preparedness, and people and partnerships.

The military realigned and reallocated its budget lines to support the strategy. One of the ways cloud services help is to reduce duplication of functions common to multiple programs, Puckett said.

“A lot of what we’ve done has been program by program by program,” he said. “A big part of commonality and reusability is the resources and time that are invested in a really duplicated way.”

By identifying data, applications and process commonalities, Puckett said, and reestablishing them as enterprise services, ECMA can improve the military’s ability to achieve its modernization goals.

The intersection of acquisition and cloud strategy

In the meantime, ECMA is updating its own approach to acquiring and delivering cloud services. The new cloud plan relies on a service called Cloud Account Management Optimization. Puckett described CAMO as “a large-scale cloud infrastructure purchase mechanism.”

CAMO initially focused on commercial services for unclassified and secret applications hosted in the continental United States (CONUS). The reasoning, Puckett said, was that this approach used the most mature business environments and gave Army teams the opportunity to develop their cloud buying and development skills.

“Moving forward, this mission needs to start growing,” Puckett said. “We need to start bringing private clouds essentially the OCONUS way.” The goal is to bring the safety and reliability of CONUS to offshore operations and missions.

In the 2022 review of the cloud strategy, the ECMA will “encase” cloud services with the military’s digital transformation efforts, Puckett said. As Army capabilities become more software-based and more digital, the Army will increasingly rely on common virtualized services that it can configure and deploy locally.

“You’re going to see these common services and this architecture start to grow globally,” he said. “You’re going to start focusing on more software-defined ecosystems as we move away from this physical scaffolding of the DoD corporate network.”

The military will also become less dependent on US network services, Puckett said. It will add the use of specific regional services available via satellite and on a third tier whereby field operators in austere environments load cloud capabilities onto disconnected servers.

To listen and watch all Federal News Network 2022 sessions DoD Cloud Exchangego to event page.





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