Success in the Cloud: 'Better, Faster, Cheaper'
As so often happens in the military, it's not unusual for top-level officials to be asked to stand in for their busy bosses. So it was Col. Michael Jones, USA (Ret.), the chief of emerging technologies, CIO/G-6, who found himself delivering the day two keynote address at the AFCEA Solutions Series conference, "Critical Issues in C4I", sponsored by AFCEA International and the George Mason University C4I Center. In his talk regarding the G-6's strategic vision for managing information technology resources ""from the Pentagon to the warfighter in theater," Jones noted the most recent challenge to the U.S. Army: the explosive growth of mobile devices, such as iPhones, BlackBerrys and Android tablets. Unlike laptops, which he said can be secured to some degree both physically and at the system level, mobile devices have different security challenges but still need to be securable and meet the needs of warfighters in terms of accessing information. He stressed the need for the best training for IT professionals in a day when the Army's enterprise networks expect to be extended to the "edge," meaning right out to where commanders and their troops in theater need information to make strategic and tactical decisions. Jones also said one of the biggest challenges for an organization as big as the Army is for it to standardize at a time when both hardware and software change as rapidly as the underlying technologies do. Other challenges include the need to proceed with all deliberate speed with Data Center Consolidation and developing common operating environments, including the ongoing effort to consolidate enterprise email in the Defense Information Systems Agency cloud. Asked if he could quantify "success" within the Army when it comes to cloud computing, Jones said his organization's mantra of "better, faster and cheaper" would be his rule of measure. He believes there are tools available to quantify when cloud computing results in faster outcomes for pushing mission-critical information to the warfighter. Jones also asked for help from industry representatives on hand in the audience with regard to the issue of enterprise-wide license agreements for applications and systems, citing this as one area in which proposed acquisition reforms held the potential for speeding the application of emerging technologies to the battlefield as they become feasible for deployment.