Navy seeks commercial cloud ideas

Wednesday - 8/3/2011, 3:30pm EDT

By Jared Serbu
Reporter
Federal News Radio

The Department of the Navy, tasked with making substantial cuts in its business IT spending, is asking industry for ideas on data storage and cloud-based collaboration systems, including email.

Two requests for information (RFIs), issued July 28 by the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), contemplate a public-private data center model to consolidate the dozens of facilities operated by the Navy and Marine Corps into a more rational footprint, as well as a commercial solution to cloud-based email and collaboration.

On the data storage front, the department wants ideas that can combine high data availability, low cost and performance. The Navy and Marines currently operate 80 data centers, hosting 1,600 distinct IT systems.

"Many of these data centers implement custom, point-to-point solutions for each system, with outmoded service delivery models," the RFI states. "Given today's fiscally constrained environment and under the department's current consolidation and efficiency guidance, this continued approach is neither desired nor sustainable."

The public-private approach is in line with an idea the Department of the Navy's chief information officer, Terry Halvorsen, first floated at an industry conference in June, where the department also disclosed it was trying to reduce the cost of its non-mission critical IT systems by 25 percent.

"Maybe it's possible for us to say to some private company, 'You can build a data center on our base. We will provide all the security, the physical, the virtual, and we'll be your subcontractor for security. If you get it right, you can even use that data center for non-DON business.' Is that doable? I don't know yet. Is it explorable? Yes," Halvorsen told an AFCEA Northern Virginia audience.

The second RFI asks for ideas on cloud-based collaboration software. According to the sources sought notice, the Navy wants to explore software as a service offerings that include email, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and groupware, as well as audio and video chat, instant messaging, and calendaring.

Halvorsen said at the June conference that unlike the Army, which is migrating all of its email users to a private DoD cloud hosted by the Defense Informaiton Systems Agency, the Navy doesn't see DISA as a good choice for email.

"We encourage the Army and DISA to keep working it, but they're in the beginning stages of an enterprise email capability that we already enjoy," he said. "Frankly, where they're at right now, I'd get less capability for more money. As soon as they get to a point where they can deliver as much capability as we have for less money, we'll be there."

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