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When it comes to the Pentagon and cloud computing, you don’t expect anyone to be playing around, but according to a Bloomberg report this week, a Pentagon official slipped in a couple of Star Wars references into the initial draft of a planning document on cloud computing.

According to the article, Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan is a bit of a fan. He initially included two veiled references to the franchise in a document, but cooler heads apparently prevailed and the document was pulled an hour after the release.

So what were the two references? Shanahan reportedly had some fun with Star Wars acronyms calling the new cloud agencies: “Central Cloud Computing Program Office” — or “C3PO” — to “acquire the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud,” the Bloomberg article stated.

An updated memo appeared several days later with the references stripped out and a new name for the cloud computing program in its place, the Cloud Computing Program Manager or CCPM. Whatever they call it, it appears to be a comprehensive plan to move the Defense Department to cloud computing.

When it comes to cloud computing and certain areas of the federal government, it is no small matter. While the cloud clearly provides a much more flexible approach to software and computing, just as it does in business, there are complexities involved when it comes to the government.

Hey, the CIA is in the cloud

This hasn’t prevented the CIA from being a prime example of a sensitive government agency using cloud services. In fact, in 2013 the spy agency shocked the world when it penned a deal with Amazon Web Services. It’s important to note that AWS wasn’t throwing the CIA on its normal public cloud infrastructure. Instead, it was using its cloud expertise to help the agency build a massive private cloud inside the CIA.

While the CIA was somewhat close-mouthed about the contract at the time, these days it’s more than happy to talk about it. In a June 2017 story in Federal Computer Week, the CIO at the CIA called building its private cloud with Amazon, “the best decision we’ve ever made.” 

The DoD has been talking about cloud computing for years, but more recently seems to have found a greater sense of urgency as the government looks to modernize its systems to find ways to make them more efficient and secure.

The effort is being pushed by Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, who sees this as imperative to stay ahead foreign powers like China and Russia. She hopes by using the cloud, the government can get the same kind of advantages we have seen around agility and efficiency in the private sector.

The Pentagon official, who authored that original cloud memo may have been playing around with those Star Wars references, but the fact is that the agency needs to modernize and the cloud offers a tremendous opportunity to move the Department of Defense (and indeed all of the federal government) to a more modern computing approach.

Photo: gregwest98 on Flickr. Used under CC by 2.0 license.

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Ron Miller

Posted by Ron Miller

Ron Miller is a freelance technology reporter and blogger. He is contributing editor at EContent Magazine and enterprise reporter at TechCrunch.

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