US Defense Adopts Cloud Computing Services for its Data Centers

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Cloud computing has been getting a bit of a bad rap lately. It’s not surprising since some big security hacks of late (we’re thinking of you Twitter!) have got users thinking twice before they send all their valuable data and CRM client information to a galaxy far far away. When storing data on the cloud, you have to trust that the cloud provider will keep hackers at bay, but if they don’t, it’s still you who has to take responsibility for leaked information.

Security on the cloud isn’t only a matter of loading the appropriate software; it’s also about establishing a security protocol that ensures all users access the cloud in a safe and secure way and that they keep a close eye on the handheld devices they use to access the cloud. There should also be strict measures to ensure the safety of data when the cloud is accessed and also protocols that provide security should handheld devices get lost or stolen. With security being the biggest concern for prospective clients, the cloud has gotten a little boost of confidence from none other than the Department of Defense.

Defense in the Cloud

The US Department of Defense has decided that the cloud is where the future of national security lies. The Department of Defense is tasked with the mammoth job of keeping the country’s computer systems safe and secure. Hackers pose an enormous threat to national security, and the Department of Defense must always stay on the cutting-edge of technological advancements in order to effectively protect national interests. The wealth of advantages and the added flexibility that the cloud offers has convinced the Department of Defense to join the growing number of cloud users.

“We are moving to an enterprise cloud environment that provides tangible benefits across the department by supporting the delivery of the joint information environment, from the continental United States to the warfighter at the tactical edge.  This strategy lays the groundwork, as part of the Joint Information Environment framework, for achieving cloud adoption within the department,” said Teri Takai, Defense Department chief information officer. “It focuses on the creation of department core data centers, enterprise cloud infrastructure and sustainment of cloud services.”

“The Defense Department is committed to accelerating the adoption of cloud computing and providing a secure, resilient enterprise cloud environment,” said Takai.  “This strategy will align with all department-wide information technology efficiency initiatives, federal data center consolidation and cloud computing efforts.  The result of the strategy will be improved mission effectiveness, increased IT efficiencies, and enhanced cyber security.”

Robert Carey, CIO of the US Defense Department, said that the move to the cloud was initiated to increase the security of the defense network data and to cut costs. Cloud computing does mean fewer hardware terminals and a centralization of security protocols and information. He added that they were well aware of the inherent risks associated with storing information on the cloud, but that the Department intended to implement rigorous monitoring and cryptography to protect vital data.

Advantages of the Cloud

There are many reasons that the Department of Defense has moved to the cloud:

  • Centralized security means that it’s easier to monitor and control applications and databases
  • Centralized servers mean that each branch of the Department no longer has to run and maintain expensive servers
  • Cloud computing increases mobility and flexibility; storing data on the cloud means that users can access important information from anywhere at any time
  • Users can employ a large range of handheld devices, in the office or in the field, to access data when they need it most

The Department of Defense will not be utilizing commercial cloud service providers in order to ensure that the strictest security protocols are upheld. Vendors who qualify for hosting Defense data on the cloud will have to integrate their monitoring and security capabilities with the US Cyber Command’s systems which are already in place and currently protect Defense information.

While cloud computing offers a wealth of advantages to business owners who save time and money by moving their vital information onto the cloud, security remains a concern. With the Department of Defense finding ways to ensure the security of its data, many companies will also give cloud computing more consideration. Perhaps the Department of Defense will be able to inspire cloud providers to offer advanced monitoring and security protocols for prospective clients.

You can see a detailed description of the Department of Defense’s strategy here.