Today’s geopolitical environment requires the Department of Defense and each branch of the military to be agile and capable of responding to situations in real-time. Recently Special Operations Command (SOCOM) CIO, Dr. Lisa Costa joined Federal News Network’s Jason Miller to discuss how these elite forces are leveraging the cloud to drive transformation and get capabilities to the warfighter in the field more quickly and securely.
While this might sound like mission impossible given the complexity and sophistication of today’s technology and current warfighting environments, Costa explained that in developing a DevSecOps as-a-Service methodology, SOCOM has developed the ability to “log in to the platform, write code, put code into the environment, have ATO’ed, (Authority to Operate) and then have it moved up automatically to other classification levels.” But what’s really important for Costa is that “with DevSecOps … what used to take months and years can literally take minutes or hours.”
Known as Agile Dagger, this disruptive approach to digital transformation enables SOCOM organizations to “share code and ensure integration of applications across different mission areas” which means plenty of sharing and borrowing between SOCOM, the Air Force, Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and Army in order to fully support the warfighter.
What has made it possible for SOCOM to embrace DevSecOps as-a-Service has been their investment in the cloud. Building on the foundations of her predecessors Costa has led the development of a multi-cloud environment that supports both agile development and the warfighter regardless of whether they’re at the Pentagon or in the field. SOCOM’s multi-cloud environment “allows us to deliver capability to the end-user, wherever that end-user might be, which could be a very austere environment, or a highly contested and congested environment, quickly and within the relevance of the mission,” shared Costa. “We especially are sensitive to the issue of being able to deliver a workload anywhere in the world, in minutes to seconds, as opposed to the traditional months or years.”
But as every federal CIO knows moving to the cloud is not without its challenges. Agencies typically have hard decisions to make about what workloads should in the cloud versus on-premise, how much compute and storage capacity they should buy, and how to ensure the security and integrity of workloads in the cloud. However, the same as-a-Service approach that has revolutionized SOCOM’s DevSecOps capabilities can also provide more certainty when it comes to moving data to the cloud securely.
“The cloud isn’t just a tech tool it’s an economic and business model and it’s the foundation of digital transformation,” explained Rob Davies, Chief Operating Officer at ViON. “The flexibility to move data and workloads within an agency – and between agencies like SOCOM is doing with the Department of Defense — drives efficiencies as does the ability to process data quickly and the ability to scale at will. This agility has helped SOCOM and many other agencies deliver on an increasingly complex mission in recent years.”
However, perhaps the greatest benefit of embracing a multi-cloud environment and reimagining infrastructure as-a-Service is the opportunity to manage both costs and budget more effectively. “When agencies originally moved to the cloud, they were locked into contracts where they had to buy a certain amount of computing and storage capacity upfront,” explained Davies. “This often left agencies with budget-breaking overages or budget that was wasted as capacity went unused. Buying as-a-Service means that you can buy what you need when you need it rather than trying to estimate what you might need at the beginning of the fiscal year.”
As SOCOM and other federal agencies increasingly become data-driven enterprises, multi-cloud environments will be critical to mission success. By embracing as-a-Service as the foundation of this data management strategy agencies will be able to maximize their ability to leverage data, put it to work while optimizing budgets, and focus the specialists within the agency on critical tasks, while a cloud services partner manages the day-to-day details. “It goes back to how to get to that approach where we’re using the best and brightest resources that we have,” concluded Costa. With a commitment to the flexibility that as-a-Service brings to an organization’s technical development, Costa has put SOCOM on the path to success, not just today, but for the future, too.
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