Government // Leadership
News
11/16/2011
05:35 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Under Pressure, Pentagon Adopts New IT Strategy

The CIO of the Department of Defense has devised an ambitious IT plan that aims to help the military branches cope with billions of dollars in budget cuts.

Shared Services

As the military moves toward an enterprise IT model, two initiatives in particular--data center consolidation and shared services--have some of the greatest potential for savings and new capabilities. In many cases, they will happen in tandem.

The Army, which is looking to close 75% of its 300 data centers, aligned that consolidation with its Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program, under which it's closing or reconfiguring dozens of facilities. As part of that work, the Army is consolidating applications and virtualizing servers. And it's transitioning its Exchange email environment--where servers are deployed and managed by internal departments--to a DISA data center, where Exchange servers are centrally managed. The Army has transitioned 230,000 users to email as a service, and it's converting others at a rate of 20,000 per week, with the goal of getting 1.6 million users on the service.

Mike Krieger, deputy CIO of the Army, notes several advantages to this approach. Users now have access to a global address list that includes everyone at the DOD. They get unlimited email storage, no longer limited to 200 MB. And the Exchange calendar function, which had been restricted to "enclaves" of users, is now all-inclusive, making scheduling easier.

The Army's switch to SaaS email is expected to save $100 million annually. Next, it plans to introduce collaboration tools as a service.

If all goes well, the DOD wants other branches to tap into DISA's email service. The Joint Chiefs of Staff is due to get it in January, and the Air Force could follow.

First, however, the Army must demonstrate that its email service can operate reliably. It was forced to put the Exchange implementation on hold for three months this past summer after encountering a series of network problems. Email traffic bogged down as improperly configured firewalls retransmitted packets, gobbling bandwidth. Other performance issues were traced to unpatched systems, an improperly configured intrusion-prevention system, and a faulty switch card.

The Army has since cleaned up those issues through attention to hardware configurations and other planning, and the migration is now going "smoothly," Krieger wrote in a recent blog post.

Change In Culture

The Army's email conversion is important for another reason. It's a test of just how far the military branches will go in sharing IT resources. Speaking at InformationWeek's Government IT Leadership Forum in Washington earlier this year, Krieger made that point in blunt military fashion. "In the past, we told DISA they couldn't do anything past the DISA point of presence outside the gate at Fort Riley," Krieger said, turning to DISA CIO Henry Sienkiewicz. "If they tried, we'd cut off their hands."

Now that DISA is the provider of its email service, Krieger said he told DISA vice director Maj. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins (since nominated to become DISA's next director) that he expects the agency to monitor the customer experience. Krieger recounted: "He said, 'Do you mean that we can go past the point of presence? Is the Army changing policy here?' And I said, yes."

There will be many ways to track the effectiveness of Takai's new IT enterprise plan--cost savings, cloud adoption, data center closings, and the level of virtualization. Key to all of that will be how many times CIOs are willing to say "yes" to new ways of working.

--With reporting by J. Nicholas Hoover

Go to the sidebar:
Army CIO Seeks $1.5B In IT Efficiencies

Previous
4 of 4
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
ANON1253565337053
50%
50%
ANON1253565337053,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2011 | 1:08:11 AM
re: Under Pressure, Pentagon Adopts New IT Strategy
The Department of Defense is staring at a classic enterprise IT challenge with new information technology products and methods arising daily across the globe. The endless learning of new technology limits the ability to save money across its IT operations, and keep ahead of the Jones's. Christopher Pennington, Pennington Electronic Security Products
ANON1253565337053
50%
50%
ANON1253565337053,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2011 | 1:06:23 AM
re: Under Pressure, Pentagon Adopts New IT Strategy
The Department of Defense is staring at a classic enterprise IT challenge with new information technology products and methods arising daily across the globe. The endless learning of new technology limits the ability to save money across its IT operations, and keep ahead of the Jones's.
2014 US Salary Survey: 10 Stats
2014 US Salary Survey: 10 Stats
InformationWeek surveyed 11,662 IT pros across 30 industries about their pay, benefits, job satisfaction, outsourcing, and more. Some of the results will surprise you.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Must Reads Oct. 21, 2014
InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of digital strategy. Learn why you should learn to embrace DevOps, how to avoid roadblocks for digital projects, what the five steps to API management are, and more.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
A roundup of the top stories and trends on InformationWeek.com
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.