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DOD Adopts New Strategies to Scale Agency Innovation, Bolster Warfighting Capabilities

A global health crisis is what it took for agencies under the Department of Defense to consider adopting a unified enterprise that can support centralized systems for email and office applications.

Danielle Metz, deputy CIO for information enterprise at the DOD, said in a June 1 interview with Federal News Network that the experience of using the Commercial Virtual Remote platform proved that “working together as an enterprise really does work.”

The department launched CVR at the onset of the pandemic to enable online collaboration across multiple units. The program was phased out in June to make way for a cloud-based environment that offers the full Microsoft 365 suite.

Moving forward, Metz noted that the cloud suites to be used by DOD employees will function in a federated model where each military department will operate its own Office 365 “tenants” to minimize potential risks.

The different cloud tenants will be integrated via central service at the DOD CIO office. “That’s really how we’re able to stitch together all the tenants to create that interoperability. That’s what we enjoyed in CVR, and now it’s what we’re trying to replicate with this federated approach,” Metz said.

Meanwhile, the challenge in the hybrid cloud approach comes in the different capabilities of edge devices as compared to a public cloud.

David Egts, senior director and chief technologist of Red Hat’s North American public sector, said in an interview with ExecutiveBiz that complexity arises when there is a set of totally different capability sets between the public cloud and edge.

He suggests that an open hybrid cloud strategy, built on an open-source substrate, would be a viable option to address the issue.

“The idea is that data has a gravitational pull, and performing computations where the data is collected is just a lot easier and more cost-effective than sending it back to a data center,” Egts said.

On July 7, the DOD introduced its Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability initiative intended to develop warfighter capabilities as joint all domain command and control, and the department’s artificial intelligence and data acceleration effort.

The DOD noted that it was eyeing to tap two hyperscale cloud service providers, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, to work on the project.

FedScoop reported Wednesday that the House armed services subcommittee on cyber, innovative technology and information systems mandated the military services to submit a report to Congress that details the legacy systems that can be decommissioned to “ensure that redundant and unnecessary investments can be better aligned to departmental priorities.”

The department will also be required to explain how it is dealing with roadblocks in scaling innovation since many agencies are procuring models of emerging technologies but only a few have contributed to a large-scale change in the enterprise.

On Aug. 10th, the Potomac Officers Club will host its 2021 Digital Transformation Forum to provide an audience of GovCon and government executives insight on how strategic technologies are changing the federal landscape and affecting the business models and its performance.

Join the virtual forum to hear from federal and industry representatives as they give their perspectives on IT efforts and discuss how the DOD is working to achieve its digital transformation goals. Register here.

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