I recently heard the update given to the Gulf Coast Government Contractors Association (GCGCA) on 12 DEC about how the Navy plans to consolidate their data centers.
I think this is important work and have been following the progress for several years. A quick look back in history helps explain why the situation has become so critical and how you can now be a part of the solution.
When the true power of Shore Networks first became obvious to Navy users (about 1995) the Navy-World was divided into two groups: the Haves and Have-Nots. Those commands with a few extra dollars at the end of the year and lucky enough to have an IT expert in their midst procured and deployed internet solutions for their shore staffs at the local level. The first few years of “wild-West IT Deployment” set the stage for years of ad-hoc purchases and policies that cobbled the shore networks together. And it worked pretty well - mainly because with the spotty global connectivity of the early-years, local solutions were often the only solutions that worked!
But of course, that solution was neither cost/labor efficient nor secure. As Headquarters-Everywhere developed their own IT expertise, they started to consolidate the funding and try to roll out “enterprise solutions”. Pulling back money is always hard, and none of the users really play that game nicely – tucking away funds and capabilities out of HQ sight. Never forget how important “control” is to the military user! And of course the first few years were full of deployments using slow reach-back and delivering reduced capabilities!
As the global connectivity improved and IP traffic zipped around the world with amazing speed and reliability, these solutions started to look better and better. Then came the data calls. For several years, it seemed that “list your IT gear” data calls were coming faster than the information could be reported.
One time when I was on active duty, the folks from Head Quarters came to do an audit on the network. I was in charge of over 5000 OCONUS seats at the time, and I prided myself on knowing exactly where every single piece of equipment was located. After all, I was in charge of securing it! If someone hacked into the network via some unsecured piece of gear, I would be the one getting the court martial for not doing my job! I endured that audit, convinced it was just an OCONUS boondoggle for the HQ staff, until I saw the result! Two offices down from my office, our Supply Office had set up a closet full of gear to “enable” his data-bases, and the Human Resource Officer in the next building over had similar equipment in a hallway off the back of the building! I was horrified to learn this equipment resided on my “secure” network, out of sight from my IT experts! At that moment I became a big fan of consolidation.
The Data Center Consolidation (DCC) Task Force was stood up in November 2011 and directed to consolidate 58 Navy data centers by 2017. [Note: this followed the significant consolidation work done by NETWARCOM under the Cyber Asset Reduction (CARS) program.] The primary goal is cost savings, but considerable security improvements should be realized in the process. In 2012, this effort moved under the Fleet Readiness Directorate as the Data Center Application Optimization (DCAO) office. The new data centers are located in San Diego, New Orleans and Charleston. [There are many discussions going around about whether these locations are the right place. I expect there will be some significant “exceptions” made to this plan.]
SSC LANT is supporting them as they:
- Assess the current status.
- Analyze the situation and provide engineering analysis.
- Execute the transition from the legacy site to the new hosting facility.
- Sustain the data centers through hardware and software reuse and improve the security posture with assurance control.
Industry opportunities will include services, as the workforce is augmented for short-term transitions and as sustainment efforts build. Transition tools and technologies are currently being evaluated and transition CONOPS are being drafted.
Experts will be needed in:
- Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
- IT Service Management (ITSM) practitioners
- Cyber Security Engineers
- Validation experts for certification and accreditation.
I really liked the analogy that Bruce Carter (SSC LANT Engineer) used during his presentation in New Orleans, so I’ll repeat it here. Imagine a neighborhood where many of the homes have their own swimming pools. The individual user manages all the expense, maintenance, security, and health standards. Not ideal! Now imagine the neighborhood that teams up to build one really nice pool, with better amenities, various membership levels, and improved security. Now we just need to make sure that everyone can get to the pool, that the water is kept clean, that the rules prevent drunken parties from getting out of control, and that someone manages the maintenance contract carefully!
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