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11/18/2011
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Army CIO Seeks $1.5B In IT Efficiencies

How will Lt. General Susan Lawrence do it? Data center consolidation, enterprise email, and server virtualization are part of the plan.

CIO Susan Lawrence has been tasked by the Army's top official, Secretary of the Army John McHugh, with contributing to the military's cost-cutting objectives. She plans to invest near term to save long term, with a goal of "returning" $1.5 billion to the Army budget by fiscal 2015.

Appointed CIO in March, Lt. Gen. Lawrence will get there by consolidating systems and increasing the Army's use of shared services and commercial technologies.

The Army's email-as-a-service project is expected to contribute one-third of those savings--$500 million over five years. The Army has already migrated 230,000 users from internal Exchange servers to servers operated by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), and it plans to convert a total of 1.6 million users by September 2012.

Collaboration tools as a service will follow. "We intend to have that service up within 12 months," Lawrence says.

Data center consolidation is pegged to contribute another $100 million in savings. The Army plans to close 225 of its 300 data centers. So far, it has shuttered 32 of them, amounting to 100,000 square feet. That translates into lower energy costs and "millions of dollars" in contract savings, Lawrence says.

The Army is winnowing down its applications by 30% to 50%, while raising server utilization through virtualization. Its server utilization is an unimpressive 20% today; Lawrence wants to raise it at least to 70%.

For cloud computing, Lawrence prefers services provided by DISA or another Department of Defense agency, but she will consider commercial services. Private clouds operated at Army expense would be a last resort.

Off-the-shelf communications technologies offer potential for savings over the custom systems that have long been the norm at the DOD. This month, the Army evaluated commercial products as part of its semiannual Network Integrated Evaluation.

Lawrence also wants to shorten the Army's IT acquisition cycle from eight years to just two. "We're looking at faster, cheaper," she says.

Go to the main story:
Under Pressure, Pentagon Adopts New IT Strategy

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