Federal agencies embracing cloud-based document storage

Several days after the Department of the Interior announced its intention to implement a new cloud-based records management service, the Pentagon awarded Microsoft a $10 billion "war cloud" deal, according to Time magazine.

At the end of October, the Department of Defense announced that it had awarded Microsoft the multi-billion-dollar contract for its cloud service Azure after a procurement process that saw the longtime technology company pitted against fellow tech giant Amazon, as well as Oracle and IBM. Google declined to compete for the contract, citing a conflict with its ethical principles regarding the use of artificial intelligence.

The contract award is part of the DOD's plan to implement an overhaul of its records collection system called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, which will store and process classified data and allow the use of AI to expedite war planning and battle capabilities, according to Time.

On the other hand, Bloomberg reported that the DOI is seeking to purchase a new cloud-based digital document management system to facilitate the full transition of its records to electronic form before the end of 2022, replacing its legacy email and Enterprise Records and Document Management System.

Data modernization and cloud migration "go hand-in-hand"
The federal government's increasing investment in cloud-based storage systems comes at a time when many private-sector corporations and other organizations have also made the shift toward electronic recordkeeping as a means of data modernization, a recent Deloitte survey and report on the practice found.

Specifically, 91% of the more than 500 respondents stated that their organizations primarily store their data on cloud-based platforms; of those respondents, 55% replied that data modernization is the key factor driving their data migration to the cloud, which is just behind those who cited security and data protection (58%). The report also claims that organizations are using modernization to cut costs and improve efficiency compared to their older enterprise systems.

Ultimately, the report concludes that cloud migration and data modernization go hand-in-hand, adding that they "seem to support and overlap each other" and should be pursued as one goal.

Details of planned Pentagon, DOI cloud services
A proposal to create JEDI was brought forward in 2018 and called for the replacement of the "disjointed and stove-piped information systems" with cloud storage that "will empower the warfighter with data" and help to maintain the U.S. military's technological advantage, according to Time. In a statement following the announcement, the Pentagon stated that the new award would help it to continue its "multi-vendor, multi-cloud environment" strategy.

With products such as Amazon Web Services, Amazon comprises 48% of the public cloud computing market, while Microsoft accounts for 16% in the second-place slot, according to Time. In a statement following the contract's awarding, Amazon expressed surprise at the Pentagon's choice.

The DOI's new information management platform is estimated to be worth up to $80 million and will replace the agency's older Enterprise eArchive System, the contract for which has lasted seven years, paid out $46 million and is slated to end in September 2020. That contract was awarded to IQ Business Group, Inc. in 2012.

Ideally, the agency hopes to procure a cloud service from a commercial company on a software-as-a-service basis, the report stated. Potential sellers have been invited to submit responses through the end of November 20 before the agency decides on a purchase, per Executivegov.com. With the new contract, Microsoft joins a number of other technology entities working with federal government agencies to help better secure and store their data compared to their legacy systems and methods in recent years.

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