On this Memorial Day, I thought it would be appropriate to acknowledge not just the freedoms the U.S. military preserves in the modern world, but the tremendous contribution the organization has made to the development and implementation of advanced data environments.
In an age in which digital information permeates every facet of our lives, it is easy to forget that the infrastructure that supports today’s data-driven economy is the by-product of some very forward-thinking men and women in uniform. Whether it is the worldwide telecommunications system, digital data processing and storage, the Internet or mobile communications, the germ of the idea almost always had its roots in the Department of Defense.
Nowadays, the military is moving quickly into cloud computing and mobility, and doing wonders in convincing the rest of the world that these architectures are no less secure and reliable than traditional IT. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), which acts as the cloud broker for DoD, recently unveiled a five-year plan that places a high premium on low-cost, scale-out infrastructure. The goal is the creation of the Joint Information Environment, which allows for shared IT environments governed by a unified security architecture and a core set of governing principles. In the process, the department is focusing on key capabilities like agile and adaptive command and control, application lifecycle automation, Big Data analytics and high-speed networking.
Even the army has to answer to someone, and a plan of this magnitude has not gone unnoticed by the board of directors, aka, the U.S. Congress. The House of Representatives is currently considering the Department of Defense Cloud Security Act, which would direct the DoD CIO and comptroller general to lay out key security practices for use with both internal and external cloud architectures. At a time when much of the U.S. security apparatus is already heading toward the cloud, the bill would foster even greater use of public and private resources provided they do not compromise valuable digital assets.
The DoD is only the first step in what looks to be a broad-based conversion to advanced data architectures for the entire federal government. Top IT platform developers are already gearing their offerings to serve what is one of the largest enterprises in the world with more than 2.5 million employees. Microsoft, for one, is on pace to launch the Azure U.S. Government Cloud, which will focus on IaaS and PaaS services, while Cisco and Amazon are working up new cloud-based offerings optimized for government agencies. A key component in these plans is the acquisition of security certifications and other accreditations that work to ensure steady, reliable service.
As has been seen numerous times in the past, government support for advanced technological constructs is crucial during the initial development phase when the commercial advantages are still largely unknown. To be sure, the military prospers a great deal from these arrangements, but it has also proved more than willing to share the benefits with the rest of the world.