Email and SharePoint are no brainers for CIOs looking to move parts of the computing operations to the cloud. But what’s next? Not surprisingly as the Air Force drives to consolidate data centers and move apps to the cloud, IT executives are looking to virtualize as many applications as make sense.
But “sometimes it is difficult to determine what should actually be virtualized,” said Frank Konieczny, Air Force Chief Technology Officer, during a recent Federal Executive Forum on Emerging Technologies.
“Obviously remote pilotless vehicles controls are not a good candidate. But normal websites that are open to everybody should be in the cloud anyway. So we are doing an analysis as to what are the best fits to move into the cloud.”
As a success story, Konieczny described how the Air Force is using a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application for their personnel operations center generating savings of more than $12 million in startup costs and about $2 million in just licenses and personnel costs.
What you are going to see is an IP cellular network in the sky and we are all going to interlink with each other.”
Which Technology? Which Products?
Konieczny is in charge of developing a technical baseline for all the IT functions within the Air Force. He explained how various integrated product teams are “coming together to work on the technologies you want to go forward with in the future. They determine the specifications of what we want to see in the future; and those are the ones that are required to be implemented.
As the Air Force progresses down the road to a single integrated network environment, Konieczny said there will be virtualization on both the aerial and space layers (of the network environment), with large amounts of data being transmitted across layers.
“That provides lots of security challenges as well as lots of capacity. We’ll probably use some storage arrays in the aerial layer, but because everything has to go down to the airman, everything has to be more dynamic, more to the needs of the mission right when the person needs it.”
Konieczny added this will be a mobility challenge “because as we come up with more devices we have to be able to send the data to that device. What you are going to see is an IP cellular network in the sky and we are all going to interlink with each other. To make this happen in the future, security, Big Data, quick response time and the devices are all key essential elements.”
But right now in the mobility arena, the Air Force is dealing how to rectify the fact most mobile devices normally used by Airmen are not “Air Force secure.”
“We have airmen coming in and they are used to mobility,” Konieczny explained. “They can’t live without their cell phones but we have no way right now of bringing in IPads right now. We have pilot right now for an iPad, but the secure technical instructions have not been approved yet for the pads or for any of those devices. So we are in a security dilemma if you will.”
Breaking Gov contributor Jeff Erlichman writes regularly on cloud computing in government.