Navy mandates partial migration to commercial cloud

Monday - 4/8/2013, 8:30pm EDT

The Navy and Marine Corps are to begin migrating at least some of their IT systems to cloud environments hosted by commercial providers under a memorandum the Navy Department's chief information officer signed last week.

The move follows a pilot the Navy conducted with Amazon Web Services in which the department migrated certain public-facing data systems to the commercial provider's infrastructure. The Secretary of the Navy's web portal is among the sites that were moved out of government-operated data centers, officials said.

In the memo, Terry Halvorsen, the department of the Navy's CIO, wrote that "low impact" information systems would be the first to move to commercial providers, defining the term to mean "an information system in which the loss of confidentiality, integrity, and availability could be expected to have limited adverse effect. DON organizations are to categorize as low-impact those publicly accessible information systems, applications, and web sites that contain only information previously approved for public release."

The Navy said the directive was designed to comply with the spirit of language Congress inserted into the 2012 defense authorization bill, telling the Defense Department to develop a department wide strategy to migrate data out of government facilities and into commercially-hosted cloud environments that "provide a better capability at a lower cost with the same or greater degree of security."

The Pentagon released its cloud strategy in July 2012, designating the Defense Information Systems Agency as the single "cloud broker" for DoD and making it the single portal for Defense components to procure government or commercial cloud services. DISA is still working out how the brokerage concept will work.

"Therefore, pending further guidance from the DoD CIO, the DON must move forward and employ capable solutions that meet mission and security requirements and provide the best value," Halvorsen wrote.

The memo also tells the Navy and Marine Corps to begin investigating ways to identify the most economical cloud hosting environment for "medium impact" systems, as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology's special publication 800-53.

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