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1/20/2012
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Defense Dept. CIO Needs More Authority, Board Says

Defense department's advisory board urges military to give DOD CIO more authority to drive data center consolidation and cloud computing.

Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progres
Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progress
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The Defense Department should give its CIO more responsibility to drive data center consolidation and the move to cloud computing throughout the military, a defense advisory board says in a new report.

Specifically, CIO Teri Takai needs a greater ability to say "no" and force compliance with Defense-wide initiatives, says the report by the Defense Business Board, which drew on interviews with top IT officials across the defense and national security community, as well as a number of companies in the private sector.

The recommendations are somewhat timely, as the DOD has recently been grappling with CIO duties. The department is working on a charter to clarify Takai's role, and its recently released IT Enterprise Strategy and Roadmap has slightly refined her responsibilities.

[ Learn how the military can better share data. Read DOD Aims To Improve Info Sharing. ]

Under the new roadmap and strategy document, the DOD CIO is given primary responsibility for IT policy, architecture, and standards, including approving component service groups' IT plans. However, a DOD CIO Executive Board will establish consolidation objectives and recommend emerging technology priorities like cloud computing.

Before Takai's appointment, top DOD officials promised an overhaul of the military's CIO position, indicated that the new CIO would report directly to the Secretary of Defense, and laid out a plan to eliminate the old position of assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration. Those changes are still ongoing--the networks and information integration title was eliminated as of this month, but the promised changes have yet to come to full fruition.

In addition to giving Takai more authority, the Defense Business Board report, which focused on cloud computing and data center consolidation, recommended that the DOD create a coordinated, integrated strategy for cloud computing and data center consolidation for the entire military, look for efficiencies in legal and procurement authorities in order to accelerate deployment, use a rational and prioritized approach to consolidation, and employ a commercial business model to set goals.

In terms of specific action items, the report recommends, among other things, that DOD continue launching cloud pilots, set deadlines for when legacy systems should be shut down, consolidate apps before consolidating infrastructure, establish specific output-oriented metrics, establish faster procurement capability for IT purchases, and make more use of DISA.

The military needs to act decisively, the report says, or fail in its consolidation and cloud strategy due to increased legacy costs and poorly coordinated action across DOD. By acting now, the report estimates, DOD could save as much as 50% on data centers, cut server provisioning time by 95%, and improve bandwith use by 90%.

How 10 federal agencies are tapping the power of cloud computing--without compromising security. Also in the new, all-digital InformationWeek Government supplement: To judge the success of the OMB's IT reform efforts, we need concrete numbers on cost savings and returns. Download our Cloud In Action issue of InformationWeek Government now. (Free registration required.)

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