U.S. Navy Shifting Public Data to Amazon Cloud

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Terry Halvorsen, the Chief Information Office for the U.S. Navy, says his IT operation is moving most of its public data to the Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform. (Photo: Rich Miller)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Navy is shifting large amounts of data to the Amazon Web Services cloud, and expects the move to produce huge savings.

“We are in the process of putting most of our public-facing data in an Amazon cloud service,” said Terry Halvorsen, the Chief Information Officer of the Department of the Navy, in a keynote at Meritalk’s Data Center Brainstorm event Thursday. Halvorsen said the move could save the Navy as much as 60 percent versus the cost of managing that data in its own data centers.

“There is still a place for the data center non-cloud solution,” Halvorsen said. “Getting that balance right is my mission.”

Cloud First

The Navy’s use of Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the latest example of how organizations focused on security and compliance are finding ways to use public cloud services. Halvorsen said this is part of a larger shift of IT assets to commercial service providers as agencies seek to slash costs under mandates of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Effort (FDCCI) and the Obama administration’s “Cloud First” focus.

The FDCCI is still very much an ongoing process, and Halvorsen believes it goes much deeper than counting data centers. “In the end, it’s about counting dollars,” said Halvorsen, on the consolidation efforts. ”I don’t like the word consolidation.” Halvorsen prefers the term “Application Kill.”

“It’s not just about rationalization or consolidation,” he said. “To save money, you have to kill things.

There are many complexities when it comes to the FDCCI effort. Halvorsen said that there are around 150 Department of Navy data centers with 50 servers or more. “The Navy owns a lot of old buildings,” said Halvorsen. “I need to get this down to 25 or less.”

Beyond Closing Facilities

In a sentiment echoed by many presenters, the consolidation effort goes beyond simply closing federal data centers. There are several issues to keep in mind.

The first stage of the FDCCI involved a lot of “lift & shift” – forklift efforts in moving the small data centers and closets into central facilities. The next stage was virtualization, and application rationalization. There is a lot of application sprawl in federal IT.

In order to move forward with consolidation efforts, “you have to go through all the data,” said Halvorsen. Data needs to be evaluated for what can go to cloud, what can go to a private cloud and what is critical. Currently, Halvorsen says that his Department needs to get 50 percent of data into some type of commercial solution. Most of the public data is going to Amazon Web Services.

“During the next 5-6 year window, we have a glut of capacity in the commercial world,” said Halvorsen. “How do we capitalize on that?”

There needs to be standardization in the level of service requirements with anyone the Department of Navy, and the rest of government, deals with. “If I’m just parking data, I want to take advantage of those locations,” said Halvorsen. “If I make something less expensive, but maintain the same risk, it’s ok.”

The bottom line, according to Halvorsen, is that they need to be more transparent about their needs, and anyone seeking contracts with the Navy needs to get transparent with them. If the Department of the Navy were a Fortune 500, it would be number three or four on the list, according to Halvorsen. These are big needs.

“Do your homework, know my business, understand my needs” said Halvorsen.

About the Author

Jason Verge is an Editor/Industry Analyst on the Data Center Knowledge team with a strong background in the data center and Web hosting industries. In the past he’s covered all things Internet Infrastructure, including cloud (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS), mass market hosting, managed hosting, enterprise IT spending trends and M&A. He writes about a range of topics at DCK, with an emphasis on cloud hosting.

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