DOD Cloud Adoption Helps U.S. Troops Stay Connected

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Soldiers at the Fort Stewart, Ga. Education Center work on class material and catch up on their e-mail. The adoption of the cloud by U.S. Department of Defense has helped soliders in the United States and deployed abroad to stay connected with their families. (Photo: U.S. Army)

As the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) adopts new types of globally distributed technologies, it is working to improve communications for servicemembers, both on the battlefield and with family at home.

While those of us in the corporate world may take for granted the ability to clearly relay a message between multiple parties, communications in the military’s IT world can be critically important.

The military’s shift in technology is happening at all levels and the DOD is fully embracing the new infrastructure push. Just two years after its inception, the Department of Defense Enterprise Email system has reached its one millionth user. This milestone means that the DOD Enterprise Email (DEE) is now one of the largest independent email systems in the world.

“For the war fighters, using DEE means wherever they are, they can use their email, whenever they need it. It is not necessary to start a new email account when you move or deploy. It is as mobile as the servicemember,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, Director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).

With so many important users at any given time, the DOD and DISA are working to ensure optimal performance and maximum communication capabilities for U.S. troops. The landscape for the typical soldier or sailor has changed quite a bit. Just a few years ago, communicating with home meant a long wait and a short chat. Now, with better WAN connectivity and solid infrastructure, U.S. soldiers based all over the world can connect with friends and family via everyday connection means. This could mean that a soldier at Bagram Airbase can communicate with his or her loved ones via Skype, Facebook and even Gmail.

These are truly common tools that civilians use every day. Now, because of the advancement in global distributed infrastructure designs, these same platforms can be used to bring home a little closer to the people defending the national interests abroad.

Here’s a look at some of the behind the scenes infrastructure projects which are helping to bolster all cloud, Internet and WAN-based communications for the military.

Data Center Consolidation

The data center is changing to support more cloud, more data and a lot more users. The DOD quickly realized that it needed need to jump on this evolution bandwagon and update its data center infrastructure. With almost 1,200 data centers, there was a direct need to consolidate and deploy better, more efficient technologies. In fact, the same press release indicates that in using DEE, the DOD is doing just that.

DEE saves millions of dollars for the department by leveraging the buying power of the entire department. Enterprise services reduce costs by consolidating system hardware requirements and maintenance, eliminating unnecessary and inefficient administration and resource allocation. That means the military services and defense organizations using enterprise services can save money in IT services to preserve more resources for their primary mission.

Unified computing systems, converged infrastructures and intelligent hardware components are finding their way into the DOD’s data center environment. These high-density environments are capable of being locked down, diversified and given the opportunity to support numerous different services. These technologies are capable of virtualization and even logical segmentation of workloads. This means that administrators are able to granularly control how communications and data enter and leave their data centers.

Improved Global Infrastructure

Directly related to these consolidation and efficiency efforts has been the direct improvement within the global data center and communications infrastructure. What can be achieved now with intelligent switching technologies is truly amazing. One logical switch controller is able to deliver hundreds – even thousands – of virtual connections. These connections are able to be controlled and can cross-communicate when necessary. Virtual appliances can be deployed within various points in an environment creating a highly agile system. Software-defined networking has helped the DOD create more redundancy on a global scale. Furthermore, the increase in bandwidth and direct communication links has improved the type of information that can be passed point-to-point. Plus, the speed at which such data travels has greatly increased as well.

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About the Author

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. His architecture work includes virtualization and cloud deployments as well as business network design and implementation. Currently, Bill works as the National Director of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies, a Stamford, CT based consulting firm.

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