Navy to take right risks to find IT savings

Thursday - 9/8/2011, 9:36pm EDT

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The Department of Navy is under pressure to cut spending on technology systems and software. Terry Halvorsen, the CIO for the department, must reduce his IT spending by 25 percent over the next five years and he's looking at two main areas: business systems and infrastructure.

"There are seams between what is pure business in maybe a commercial area and what is pure business inside the Department of the Navy. But there are certain functions that are predominantly business and we want to look at those for efficiencies for a couple of reasons," Halvorsen said recently during a press conference with reporters at the Pentagon. "First, we believe as we have been looking where industry has been going and things they're doing, there are efficiencies to be had there and better ways we could execute that. The second one has to do with risk. We are in a tough financial environment. If I want to take some risk, and in today's financial environment, I will have to take some risk, this is a better area to take it than other areas."

Along with business systems, Halvorsen wants to find savings by consolidating and simplifying the network those applications run on.

The Department of the Navy (DoN) is focusing on data center consolidation, reducing the number of applications and the number of versions of the same application running on its network and on becoming better buyers of IT.

The Department of the Navy's IT budget for 2011 is $7.6 billion, according to the administration's IT Dashboard. Halvorsen would have to reduce it by $1.9 billion by 2016.

Halvorsen said the DoN will move to thin client and zero client set ups for some of its applications. It's figuring out how to work mobile computing into its mix, and, of course, cloud computing will play a central role in all of these efforts.

"To execute thin client well requires cloud computing. If you are going to do software-as-a-service, that requires more robust [cloud computing] because you will go to the cloud and pull the latest version of the software down and that is how you will provision it," he said. "So what I prefer to do rather than lump everything into the cloud, let's get specific on what the cloud can do for us, help us with thin client, help us provision software. Maybe contrary to what some people will tell you, the cloud offers us, particularly on the NIPRnet, a way to do security better. We actually could improve security using some of the cloud approaches."

Halvorsen said the DoN is not committed to using only private cloud or only commercial clouds. He said it's going to be a hybrid of cloud services.

"The total business case, which would mean you look at operational requirements, security requirements and cost, and come to the best decision using all of those. Sometimes it will be pure cost. Sometimes it will be combination of cost and security, and sometimes it will be cost, security and operations you have to balance," he said. "I really do think you really have to move to even in a DoD environment that says we will have a mix of answers depending on the requirement."

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