January 10, 2012

Contract Award: the first U.S. Army's Cloud Computing Contract

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, a group of contractors including Lockeed Martin, IBM, HP, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, MicroTech, and Criterion Systems, were awarded a $249,800,000 contract for providing enterprise cloud computing services in support of the U.S. Army Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems.

Under the deal, the above mentioned companies will compete for task orders to provide a host of services. These include software-as-a-service (SAAS), platform-as-a-service (PAAS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS) and data and application migration services. The contract will allow U.S. Army to reduce costs through server consolidation and updating and optimizing IT with fixed and containerized data centers. Specifically, U.S. Army will use the contract to acquire cloud-computing services to consolidate data centers from more than 200 to fewer than 20 by establishing a private cloud. This is the U.S. Army's first cloud computing contract.

The U.S. Army will acquire cloud computing services via the contract in two suites. The first will help the military cut costs by using fixed-facility private-cloud capability. The second will acquire "mobile, containerized data centers" to meet capacity needs on demand when the U.S. Army urgently or temporarily needs it.
Work location will be determined with each task order, with an estimated completion date of December 29, 2016. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 11 bids received.

The Technology

The central technology of the U.S. Army’s Private Cloud project, known as APC2, is virtualization. By using virtualization, the U.S. Army will reduce the number of data centers from over 200 to less than 20. Such reductions are readily available using mature virtualization techniques. Servers that originally were set up in support of individual applications would be pooled for large gains in capacity utilization.

In the same framework, the awarded companies will support U.S. Army IT transformation by providing a family of SW applications through the SAAS model (software-as-a-service). For decades, companies and military organizations have run software on their own internal infrastructures or computer networks. In recent years, traditional software license purchases have begun to seem antiquated, as many vendors and customers have migrated to the SAAS business model. SAAS is a software application delivery model by which an enterprise vendor develops a web-based software application, and then hosts and operates that application over the Internet for use by its customers. Under this approach, U.S. Army doesn't need to buy software licenses or additional infrastructure equipment.

The Context

Data center consolidation and cloud computing are among the U.S. Army's most important priorities — not just for saving money, but for getting information where it needs to be so that soldiers can meet their mission. On June 2010, the U.S. Army issued a request for proposals for the migration of information technologies into a cloud environment. A statement of work defined this as the “Army’s Private Cloud” (APC2).

APC2 will employ best-of-breed, commercially available services using short-term contracts. Whatever applications will be placed on a private cloud will have to be moved into a Defense Department enterprise environment under the ultimate control of U.S. Cyber Command.

In addition to the Army Private Cloud, U.S. Army also is working with the Defense Information Systems Agency to migrate its in-house email to a private cloud hosted by the DISA.

References: U.S. DoD (1), FederalNewsRadio (2), PR Newsvire (3), InformationWeek (4,5), AFCEA (6), wikinvest (7)

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