Army accelerates push to the cloud

The Army wants 2020 to be the year of the cloud and hopes to carry that momentum into 2021 with its cloud implementation plan.

military cloud

The Army wants 2020 to be the year of the cloud and hopes to carry that momentum into 2021 with its cloud implementation plan.

"FY20 is very important for us because that's where we're going to set conditions … leveraging existing capabilities," Army CIO Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford said at the service's first-ever Data and Cloud Colloquium Feb. 10.

That plan includes tapping the Army's enterprise-as-a-service pilots with the Air Force, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud and other existing cloud contracts.

The Army is looking to adapt and build an environment to facilitate data transparency and accessibility by the fourth quarter and begin to operationalize that environment in the first quarter of fiscal 2021, according to presentation documents from the event. That process will unfold over the next year so the Army can verify that data and ensure it's readable before it begins scaling it to the entire service by fiscal 2022.

Additionally, the Army wants to establish an enterprise data management framework environment by December 2021 and have a clean and usable data and information environment ready to use by December 2022. It plans to use its data to leverage emerging technologies and support ongoing operations by December 2023, according to Army presentation documents.

The Army recently stood up its Enterprise Cloud Management Office and named its director, Paul Puckett III.

"We need an enterprise place where we can start to ingest, discover, analyze and consume data beyond the systems-of-systems approach," Puckett said during his presentation Feb. 10.

He emphasized the need to manage the data and develop tools before artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used on a large scale.

And while JEDI is a start, the Army hopes to use additional cloud providers to supply simple and centralized account management, Puckett said. This capability would transition to financial data and IT categorization and asset management to determine how much is spent on cloud computing and migration.

Media was only permitted in the first part of the data and cloud industry day, but Puckett was scheduled to detail the Army's cloud implementation plan.

The Army's initially released budget documents didn't specifically call out cloud investments. But on the research front, the Army wants to spend up to $46 million out of a total $12.6 billion research budget on software and digital technology research and development, which wasn't present in the last two years of requests, according to budget documents released to reporters. The Army's top-line budget request totals $178 billion for 2021.