“The Canadian Department of National Defense (DND) sees the move to cloud as inevitable,” explains CIO Len Bastien. Cloud-based ERP solutions enable defense organizations to securely access services anywhere in the world, faster and more flexibly, at lower cost. Buying services on-demand eliminates the need for infrastructure investment, with cloud providers maintaining servers and complex infrastructure on their own premises or in a client location, as a step towards more comprehensive outsourcing of all defense IT services.
The major Tier 1 ERP suppliers, including Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, and IFS, are all developing secure, cloud-based defense ERP. Microsoft has its Dynamics AX, while SAP in Australia is investing an estimated 150 million US dollars (US$) to create a protected, enterprise cloud, and may also produce a multi-tenanted, deployable and survivable (i.e. survives an engagement) cloud capability Oracle brings secure database technology and support, with a focus on public rather than private cloud, and defense forces may prefer to adopt such a service on an on-premise basis.
Although public cloud ERP offerings are limited within the Five Eyes community, private cloud usage is growing. The US Department of Defense (DoD) recently announced 36 ‘provisional’ authorizations for commercial private cloud service providers. With command level CIOs responsible for purchasing these services, we could see an acceleration in cloud-based ERP usage.
The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is negotiating on-premise cloud hosting contracts for parts of its ERP and Global Combat Support System (GCSS). The US Army is considering hosting mainline ERPs in the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) private cloud infrastructure, with smaller systems and tools going into the public cloud. DISA already has over 5.5 million users in this environment. Canada needs to move its ERP systems into a more suitable hosted location, which should hasten cloud adoption. The New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) see cloud as a means of implementing technology faster, giving more time to focus on rationalization and deployment.
The US Army has centralized all its helpdesks into a private Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud to service 2.5 million users. In the UK, the MOD is developing a big data cloud provided by BAE, whilst NATO Headquarters’ solutions involve a Taleo Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) private cloud. Finally, the Australian Defense Force is reviewing proposals for Database-as-a-Service (DbaaS) cloud solutions.