DLA’s cloud migration: ‘Providing great certainty, in a time of uncertainty’

It is not a surprise that the pandemic sent much of the operations of the Defense Logistics Agency into the virtual realm, just like the majority of private bus...

Federal Monthly Insights – Cloud Migration Strategy and Cloud FinOps

October 14, 2021

It is not a surprise that the pandemic sent much of the operations of the Defense Logistics Agency into the virtual realm, just like the majority of private businesses and public agencies that had the capability and type of work to do so.

“We’ve adopted a cloud first approach, which is how do we quickly accelerate our application migration to the cloud to enable closing our daily data centers.” said DLA’s Program Executive Officer Adarryl Roberts on Federal Monthly Insights – Cloud Migration Strategy and Cloud FinOps.

DLA’s movement to the cloud enabled it to have on-demand networks that are configurable. And it’s nearing the mandate issued by the DoD CIO to close all data centers.

“We are well on our way to close down our data centers and migrating to the cloud. As of today, approximately 91% of our applications are cloud hosted, either through software-as-a-service models for commercial providers or your traditional infrastructure as a cloud,” Roberts said to FNN Executive Editor Jason Miller on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

The agency is in the home stretch of the migration. The early migrations allowed for the least amount of risk, “but a lot of movement,” Roberts said. That’s why they moved smaller applications first.

“We have approximately 195 applications here at DLA,” Roberts said. “But we saved what we consider our major, most-critical applications.” That way “lessons learned” could be included in each later step.

“Our ERP, our enterprise business system, our FLSS (Federal Logistics Information System), which does our cataloging modernization, as well as DAS (Defense Acquisition System), which does all of the procurement, financial and contracting logistics integration work across the department, are our last major muscle movements to move to the cloud,” Roberts said. “And because they’re so large, those efforts are taking us proximately 12-to-18 months to complete, whereas some of our earlier cloud migrations took six months.”

That year-and-a-half time table means it is not simple. It is a process that takes planning and coordinating a lot of moving parts.

“Well for us it’s not just migrating the current applications to the cloud, it also requires us to relook at our business process,” Roberts said. “So while we focus on cloud migration as one of the first steps in modernizing our agency, we really look at that as the first step in our digital business transformation journey.”

That journey, Roberts said, will offer modernization opportunities and a redefining of business processes that can be executed efficiently and more effectively.

“When you talk about the move to the cloud itself, we definitely work with our subject matter experts to ensure we don’t break any processes and we have what we call mock releases,” Roberts said. “And for our major ERP, we’ve broken that out in three phases and each phase does three mock releases before we actually move that portion of the ERP into the cloud. And so that involves full regression testing with our partners to ensure that the business process has remained intact. And as we move into that cloud, we’re also conducting business process reengineering. So the next phase after we have the application in a cloud, how do we return to using standard out-of-the-box functionality, where we can change some of our processes, challenge laws or regulations to be more efficient.”

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