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DoD official says NDAA not a barrier to data center plans

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The military services and Defense Department agencies have until Jan. 15 to detail how they will reduce the number of commercial and government applications running in their data centers, under requirements of the 2012 Defense Authorization Act that President Obama signed last month.

The law adds to pressure the department already faces under administration orders that DoD and other agencies close at least 1,200 data centers by 2015. DoD has committed to closing 61 of its more than 770 centers this year.

Under the Defense Authorization Act, DoD must also develop a strategy to move its data and services from department-owned and -operated data centers to cloud computing solutions. Cloud solutions “provide a better capability at a lower cost with the same or greater degree of security,” the law says.

While the law specifies cloud services are “generally available within the private sector,” this will not hinder the department’s effort to use Defense Information Systems Agency services, said a DoD senior official, who asked not to be named. DoD Chief Information Officer Teri Takai envisions DISA as the department’s primary information technology service provider, he said, adding that DoD has not yet issued guidance for carrying out the law.

DoD, under the law, must choose cloud services that provide better capabilities at a lower cost, and if that option exists in the private sector, then there would be a strong case to use a commercial solution, the DoD official said. He also said DoD is considering commercial solutions as part of its IT consolidation strategy.

Currently, the services and DoD agencies must get a waiver to go outside of DISA, for services like application hosting and data storage, if multiple entities within the department will be using those services.

“It’s already part of the department’s foundation that we turn to DISA for those types of services first,” the DoD official said.

DISA is partnering with the services to determine what applications could be used departmentwide and hosted in DISA data centers, what should remain with the services and what should be terminated, said Alfred Rivera, DISA’s director of computing services. For example, rather than have multiple applications that measure time and attendance throughout DoD, the department could use a single system, Rivera said.

“We have technical expertise that is equivalent to industry standards,” and DISA has competitive prices compared with industry’s costs, he said.

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