Never say 'Never' on DOD data center outsourcing

William Brougham, the Defense Information Systems Agency’s vice director for network services, said the chances of the Pentagon outsourcing data centers are slim, but he stopped short of ruling it out all together.

William Brougham, the Defense Information Systems Agency’s vice director for network services, speaking during a recent panel discussion on real-time data center services sponsored by Federal Computer Week and Juniper Networks, said the chances of Department of Defense outsourcing data centers are slim, but one should never say never.

Well, he did not use those exact words. But that was the gist.

Would the DOD consider outsourcing data centers now since the Obama Administration is pushing the concept of data center consolidation? an executive from Harris Corp. asked. In light of advances in security and the unified communications and convergence of networks would DOD consider the potential of outsourcing both unclassified and classified data to a privatized data center?

“Don’t count on it,” Brougham bluntly said, eliciting some chuckles from the audience.

DISA has consolidated Defense Enterprise Computing Centers over the past few years, from about 50 to 14 presently, he said. But that's a different animal than outsourcing, which requires a ceding of control. DOD is actually moving in the opposite direction, concentrating facilities on military bases as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Initiative, he said. For instance, DISA is in the process of moving from Arlington, VA. to Fort Meade in Odenton, MD.

However, during closing remarks, Brougham had this to say about data center outsourcing.

“The trend today is on bases, the trend tomorrow may be different.”

As DISA works with its real-time service organization, DISA officials continues to encourage new ideas, Brougham said.

“If somebody has a got a better way of doing [things] that is more secure and provides us with better capabilities, we want to know about that,” he noted.

“Just because we are going one direction now does not mean that is the way we are going to go next year or five years from now.” Brougham noted that DISA is operating in a constantly flexible environment and is working with its mission and industry partners to evolve the way the agency does business.

The comments might have given the Harris Corp. executive some hope. But unfortunately, he’d stepped out of the room.

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