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Pentagon Unveils Enterprise IT Strategy

Department of Defense looks to save up to $5.2 billion through IT consolidation and enterprise-wide adoption of shared platforms and services.

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The Department of Defense has released a new enterprise IT strategy document that outlines plans to save up to $5.2 billion over the next five years through infrastructure consolidation and increased use of enterprise-wide services.

DOD's IT Enterprise Strategy and Roadmap identifies 26 initiatives aimed at increasing the efficiency and mission effectiveness of the military's IT infrastructure, while improving cybersecurity. Those efforts include data center consolidation, cloud computing, consolidated purchasing of software and hardware, and deployment of an enterprise network that spans military branches.

The Pentagon has the biggest IT budget of any organization in the world, at $38.4 billion in fiscal 2012. Its infrastructure comprises 7 million computers and devices, 15,000 networks, 10,000 systems, and 67,000 servers in 772 data centers. An IT staff of 170,000 manages that environment.

[ The federal government is trying a lot of things to save money. Read Feds Launch Shared Services Initiative. ]

DOD CIO Teri Takai, in a foreword to the document, writes that the strategy seeks "tangible results" in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 and "aggressive consolidation" through fiscal 2015. The department is looking to reduce its number of servers by 25% and its data centers by 32%. The plan aligns with the efficiency objectives of the Office of Management and Budget's 25-point IT management reform plan, Takai says. (Takai described the Pentagon's new IT strategy in a recent interview with InformationWeek.)

The document describes the DOD's existing IT environment as a "patchwork of capabilities" that are the result of decentralized IT planning. The Pentagon is looking to replace that patchwork with DOD-wide services, applications, and tools, including a desktop environment with a common look and feel for all employees. Through consolidation and centralized execution, the department expects to realize from $1.2 billion to $2.2 billion annually in efficiencies by fiscal 2016.

The IT roadmap organizes the 26 tech initiatives into five categories--network services; computing services; application and data services; end user services; and IT business processes--and provides timelines for eight of the earliest initiatives. For example, as part of its security push, the Pentagon will employ attribute-based access controls by the end of 2012 and public key infrastructure by mid-2013.

The strategy hinges on common, centrally managed IT platforms and services. It calls for coordinated testing, certification, procurement, and management of next-generation computing devices. The DOD also plans to establish a limited number of standard development platforms and repositories, making it easier for the military branches to reuse software.

Over the past year, the Air Force and the Army have outlined their own IT efficiency plans. Those efforts are baked into the Pentagon's five-year forecast, which ranges from $3.2 billion to $5.2 billion in total IT-related efficiencies. The DOD aims to leverage its purchasing power through enterprise-wide purchasing contacts for hardware and software.

The document includes a governance framework that shows how responsibilities will be divided among the DOD CIO, the department's CIO executive board, and the CIOs of the military branches. In what's described as "tiered accountability," DOD CIO Teri Takai has primary responsibility for developing and enforcing enterprise IT policies and architecture, while branch CIOs have responsibility for the architectures and consolidations plans of their respective arms of the military.

It's unclear how the Pentagon's new IT strategy might be affected by the prospect of deep spending cuts caused by Congress' inability to deal with the federal government's budget deficit. The IT strategy document was drafted in September, two months before a super committee deadline passed, triggering automatic budget cuts that could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars in defense funding. The IT Enterprise Strategy's focus on efficiencies and cost savings would seem to make it well suited to such belt tightening.

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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