DoD Cloud Exchange: Leidos’ Bill Bender on Leaning on Collaboration

Bill Bender has now seen clouds from both sides – the public and private sectors, that is. After all, the senior vice president for strategic accounts and government relations in Leidos is a retired Air Force lieutenant general.

Among a long list of assignments, Bender was Chief Information Officer of the Air Force. Now he works with Department of Defense organizations, including the Air Force and Space Force, to achieve success in using commercial cloud services, giving him a perspective on cloud efforts from the point of view of both the DoD and the systems integrator.

From that perspective, Bender pointed to data management as one of the key DoD challenges cloud computing can mitigate.

“First of all, there is an explosion of data going on,” Bender said during the second annual edition of Federal News Network. DoD Cloud Exchange† Whether it’s maintaining US strategic dominance, improving mission outcomes, or modernizing business processes, Defense agencies “believe, and I believe the insights are there. But they need to manage and manage the data. Cloud Infrastructure allows you to do that quickly and at scale,” he said.

Cloud as a tactical advantage

Cloud speed and scale could potentially enable faster decision making, especially in tactical situations, Bender added.

Between the data and the decision, of course, lies some kind of application. Organizations on a cloud journey should start with an analytics application and, as they gain experience, move the complexity hierarchy to human augmentation and automation applications and eventually to autonomous systems, Bender advised.

This methodology also gives the organization the opportunity to mature its technology stack. “A lot of work needs to be done to ensure that the various features of artificial intelligence in terms of resilience, accuracy and security are addressed in the tech stack,” Bender said.

Cloud-native development depends on open architectures

Bender emphasized the need to develop cloud-native applications using open systems and open architectures.

Open systems enable reuse and interoperability between domains, and it helps governments avoid vendor lock-in. “With non-proprietary solutions, you’re not locked into anything because you’ve chosen to do business with one or the other industry player,” he said.

Open approaches underlie the software factories proliferating in DoD. Oriented to frequent, regular capability delivery using agile development, the department’s software factories are pushing past the legacy of long, waterfall development methodologies, Bender said.

“We need to scale our ability to develop software” because software is ubiquitous in every organization and every business, he said.

A key to modernizing the military is to modernize the way organizations develop code for software-defined systems. Industry partners like Leidos can increase government’s infinite need for development talent, Bender said. They can infuse best business practices into military requirements. And top-notch systems integrators can help government access small business innovators.

“I’ve heard forever — throughout my career — how impossible it was to cross the valley of death from commercial to defense,” Bender said. “The reality is that it’s not a technology problem these days. It is actually more of a cultural and a business process.” There’s no reason for military agencies to give up security needs or mission effectiveness, he said, because open architectures enable best-in-class commercial solutions to plug-and-play with defense applications.

Where the need for classification or secrecy is not ruled out, the department benefits from using commercial cloud services for this work, Bender said. A digitally transformed organization, in addition to developing mission applications in an agile way, is “a cloud environment where you use someone else’s software that has been delivered to the Amazons, the Microsofts, the Googles, so you don’t have to do that every time. have renewal costs. two or three years. It really takes advantage of the best business practices — their investment for your purposes,” he said.

Thinking bigger than just the cloud

In a sense, IT groups responsible for cloud services within DoD should think less in terms of cloud per se and more in terms of enterprise IT as a service (EITaaS). Bender said that idea emerged during his tenure in the Air Force as a way to relieve user organizations of lingering capital costs.

The use case was cybersecurity. EITaaS allowed the service to “bring people to what I would call more valuable work around the cybersecurity problem,” Bender said. “In a sense, cybersecurity became the silver lining for how we would move to a better IT infrastructure.”

Whether it’s data services, applications or IT infrastructure, Bender said, the nascent Space Force has a great opportunity to be a federal cloud-native organization. It also has a determined adversary “which has significantly shortened the cycle from concept to launch, taking the space domain from a benign to a threatened environment,” Bender said.

Given that the service has a particular need to remain agile and responsive, he said, and its efforts to move away from data centers and other legacy infrastructure make sense.

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


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