Inside the Navy Financial System’s Cloud Migration

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The Navy is running $70 billion in annual financial transactions in Amazon Web Services’ GovCloud.

The U.S. Navy recently completed its largest cloud migration to date, moving its Enterprise Resource Planning system—its financial system of record—from an outdated on-premises system to a modern cloud environment for 70,000 worldwide customers.  

The entire migration, which included dozens of terabytes of data across multiple ledger systems, took less than 10 months, according to Edward Quick, program manager for the Navy Enterprise Business Solutions program.

Quick, speaking Tuesday at Amazon Web Services Public Sector virtual summit, explained the Navy’s challenges in undertaking such a “complex” migration and outlined the benefits the Navy is already reaping following the move.

“Adoption of the cloud has been critical in helping to achieve operational benefits, improved security, increased availability and reliability while increasing data accessibility—but getting to this point was not easy,” Quick said. “Bringing our system into the cloud increases visibility and availability of data, so that the Navy can make timely and informed decisions around its financial reporting and budgets, maintenance and repair logs, and conduct advanced analytics.”

Initially, Quick said the Navy estimated the migration was “too long” at 18 months, mostly due to extensive review back-and-forth documentation adhering to the risk management framework. However, the Navy cut the migration timeline nearly in half by “by adding engineering rigor into our testing processes, procedures and documentation to ensure the highest quality.”

In addition, the size of the Navy’s financial records trove proved problematic. For example, Quick said one database contained more than 13 terabytes of data and traditional methods to copy that data “were running over 30 days.” The Navy, Quick said, opted for a “two-punch mitigation process,” using AWS’ Snowball edge storage and SAP’s near-Zero Downtime Maintenance Technology to migrate data in three days. That reduction in migration time was crucial, Quick said, because a 30-day database migration was “too long for an outage during cutover.”

“The magnitude of this accomplishment has been incredible and will help continue to enhance the performance of our force,” Quick said.

The migration is part of the Navy’s plan to consolidate its financial systems into a single general ledger system, which the Navy has never done before. Early post-migration, Quick said the Navy has already improved the ability to bring on new users and scale out “to a point that couldn’t have even been considered prior” to the cloud environment. When all the systems migrate, Quick said Navy ERP will “double in size” without the need for more infrastructure, since it is already in place. Further, the Navy has used its new cloud environment to reduce the time to pull financial reports from 20 hours under the old system to less than 4 hours today, and the developer-friendly environment has already allowed the Navy to deploy its first “self-service business intelligence capability” to users, Quick added.

The Navy also believes the cloud environment the Navy’s financial systems operate in now is more secure than its original setup.

“Putting Navy ERP in the cloud also adds a layer of protection to the data—with only one cloud-based depository of data to protect instead of a myriad of computing hardware,” Quick said. 

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