Day: February 25, 2012

Mobilization of a Different Kind: The Military Moves to the Cloud

Army, Department of Veteran Affairs Going Mobile and to the Cloud

The United States Department of Defense will have a combined budget in 2012 of $703 billion, over 7.5 times the yearly operating budget ($93.23 billion) of the world’s largest company by revenue, Wal-Mart. Its extensive resources allow it to utilize technologies that most small and medium sized businesses could never dream of procuring. Yet recent budget cuts, combined with a recent directive from the Obama administration to convert government IT networks to cheaper and more publicly accessible Cloud alternatives, have caused the DoD to adopt many IT deployments usually favored by SMBs for their cost-effectiveness, such as mobile devices and cloud-based infrastructures. Like SMBs, the DoD has come to appreciate that these anywhere-enabled technologies are not only cheaper but offer additional benefits in performance, centralization, and security.

InformationWeek reported on Thursday that next year the Army would begin allowing soldiers and civilians to bring their own personal mobile devices to work. The mobile Army employees would log in to a virtualized, ultra-secure “zero-client” environment that would restrict them from saving data to their device. This mobility initiative coincides with a separate Army project to centralize its email servers. Together, these measures increase connectivity and communication between Army members while improving oversight of the network (“Enterprise email should give the Army better insight into how many mobile devices the Army has and where they are”). Allowing people to bring their own mobile devices to work also lowers costs by excusing the Army from not having to procure them a device.

A different InformationWeek article from Thursday reported that, for reasons of cost, the Department of Veteran Affairs had issued a request for information (RFI) about potentially switching to cloud-based productivity applications from their on-premise enterprise deployment of Microsoft Office. Other federal departments that have switched from on-premise email or productivity apps to cloud-based alternatives include the General Services Administration, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Interior, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Cloud-based or Web-hosted applications offer several advantages over local, on-premise installations. 1) They can be accessed from mobile devices, allowing the off-site or on-the-go part of an organization’s workforce to match the productivity and collaboration levels of on-site employees; 2) Cloud-based applications allow network administrators to control access to the software, increasing security; 3) In a Cloud deployment of an application, only the server needs to have a copy of the application installed. This makes the application much easier to deploy, upgrade, and repair. These advantages combine to lower hardware and personnel costs (for example, desktops cost more than mobile devices, and manually updating each instance of an application in an enterprise saps the time of IT personnel). Pay-per-use applications offer even more cost-efficiency if selected over lifetime software licenses.

IronOrbit builds and hosts private and hybrid cloud IT infrastructures. We can also host applications. Our clients include public sector notables like Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the government-run nuclear research institution. We built a 5,000-user capacity, high-security desktop virtualization platform for LLNL that allows its workers to perform Web research and collaborate with off-site colleagues. No matter if you are a government agency with thousands of employees or an SMB with only a dozen full-time workers and contractors, IronOrbit’s cloud and applications hosting solutions will succeed in lowering your IT costs and optimizing your operations.