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U.S. Army’s journey into cloud adoption for greater mission outcomes

23 Nov 2022

Paul Puckett highlights the U.S. army’s choice of cloud computing and common services to accelerate digital innovation in their modernization strategy

U.S. Army CIO Enterprise Cloud Management Agency (ECMA) awarded their Enterprise Common Shared Services (ECSS) contract to Capgemini on Feb 7, 2022. The contract aims to increase the Army’s readiness and lethality while enabling the expansion and continued services provided by cARMY, the backbone for ECSS – across multiple cloud environments, classifications and geographic locations to serve the global mission of the U.S. Army.

Speaking to Michael Berger, who is the Aerospace, Defense, and Intel Market lead at Capgemini, Paul, who leads the ECMA, reporting to the CIO of the US Army, said he was responsible for driving both cloud strategy as well as the execution of cloud computing to fundamentally change the business at the army way back in 2019. He recounts the enabling outcomes with cloud computing, which bolstered their mission readiness but more importantly also talks about how their cloud strategy aligned to the greater strategy of the ADTS (Army Digital Transformation Strategy). And thereby achieved a solid foundation of cloud services to fortify their chance of success at digital transformation in the armed forces organization.

Listen to the fascinating story of how the US Army after multiple failures to adopt cloud finally leveraged scalable cloud solutions and services in their modernization strategy to transform the business of the army and deliver value on data with an accelerated timeline and reduced cost.

Summary points for those who are not watching the video:

  • In 2019 the US army came out with the modernization strategy where developing a cloud computing technology to improve shared data access and software environments was the foundational necessity. Yet cloud computing services needed to be seen as more than “someone else’s data center” if the journey to the cloud had to succeed like they do in digital transformation of large enterprises. This required a complete re-imagination of skill sets, organizational structures, and processes. But more importantly a cultural shift in the perception of cloud adoption from a technology challenge to a people challenge.
  • Earlier initiatives of hosting capabilities in the cloud were made by the army but truly democratizing access to cloud services to modernize the business had not been yet achieved without a proper structure in place for buying cloud services and for securing access to a cloud
  • In 2021 digital transformation strategy was based on the hypothesis that the digital infrastructure of cloud needs to become way more mature, capabilities need to expand and the customer experience needs to improve. Fully aligned with the army cloud plan of 2020, not just leveraging commercial cloud computing but extending into on-premise tactical locations to establish mission critical capabilities of the army.
  • The Army’s partnership with Capgemini is the fruition of this hypothesis and the subsequent cloud plan of 2022 that complements the greater strategy of the ADTS (Army Digital Transformation Strategy). The army was at that stage of maturity where they needed to move beyond a potpourri of contracts and partnerships. The foundation of the partnership with a predominantly commercial cloud computing provider had to be solid from a customer experience perspective as well as mission outcomes perspective.
  • Despite being a commercial company, over 5000 of Capgemini’s cloud projects support Fortune 100 companies. They have proven processes, people and expertise on how to deploy a shared services model in a multi-tenant cloud environment. Reaching out to the commercial cloud team was an important part of ECMA’s strategy seeing that Capgemini has delivered similar strategy at scale at large Fortune 500 companies. They have delivered and continue to support a seamless user experience in cloud adoption so that processes are easy, repeatable, automated. So our singular focus is to provide a governance model where digital innovation yields cloud infrastructure and architecture allowing your customers to easily onboard.
  • To deliver the common services of the cloud the army needed common data services to actually enable software development and leverage the services to scale. Because they were trying to shut down data centers and move into the cloud to accelerate timelines with these common services. In less than three months the army saved nearly 10 million dollars in cost for moving to the cloud and were able to start optimization and modernization of the business systems in the cloud.
  • In the highly regulated industry of the DoD, there’s a certain number of checks and balances that exist before they can even use commercial services. Earlier on it was centralized on buying and no one in the DoD was resourced to monitor the security and services before hosting capabilities across the cloud computing architecture. For the DoD to actually deliver in a way that could meet their mission needs was to deliver services people loved. And part of the reason why the commercial partnership exists today is that if people don’t like their services they use somebody else’s services.
  • The army’s customer experience is a significant priority. If their customers have a seamless easy approach to onboarding to cloud, they are able to focus better on mission outcomes. Like the way Capgemini supports onboarding and automation into cloud adoption and allows the end user to focus on what’s really important. In the ADTS modernization process – readiness reform and people in partnerships – cloud services really underpin removal of toil from customers.
  • All the different pieces of the digital infrastructure is designed to run like network time protocol functioning as part of an ecosystem. It is also about lowering the entry barrier to adopt cloud services so that customers can focus on the mission objective and the outcome that they’re trying to achieve.
  • If the DoD needs to fundamentally change the way they do business, the cultural and mental shift have to permeate through the army for cloud adoption because it’s not a technology solution it’s a people solution. If there is no foundation of common services that people love using, there’s never going to be a discussion about culture change.
  • Requirements in how we deliver capabilities in the army need to be incentivized. Investing in people and their training contracts to resource teams are crucial. Just evaluating on delivering cloud infrastructure is not going to drive any outcomes in the DoD. So without the common services layer and extending the domain of enabling capabilities in the cloud, it is difficult to get that culture change for different outcomes in the mission.
  • The idea of bringing commercial innovation to the table and best practices at scale to a fortune 100 company is equally relevant for the army. The DoD is now realizing that it is possible to drive interoperability in those common services. And that accelerated outcomes and new capabilities to fundamentally change the way we look at requirements of iterative delivery of services, are possible when the resource investment is seen from a reform perspective. The army is seeing better return on investment for how they’re investing dollars that’s driving the higher probability of actually delivering outcomes.
  • complete modernization at the DoD scale cannot be achieved alone. They needed and finally got a partner like Capgemini to leverage digital technology and enable the business and the organization in the army. It’s bringing those commercial, repeatable practices and shared service knowledge of companies from the federal space to the army and that’s the five-year trajectory of a vision of where the cARMY is going. And in five years there’s going to be a success story of an easy path to onboarding, an easy path to adoption and focusing on the mission.