CSRA moves milCloud 2.0 closer to going live

CSRA is eyeing Feb. 1 as the date to roll out the much-anticipated milCloud 2.0 computing infrastructure for the Defense Department.

CSRA has stepped up its efforts to get milCloud 2.0 online more quickly for the Defense Department since the potential eight-year, $498 million job was awarded to the company in June of last year.

Now there is a target date of Feb. 1 for CSRA and DOD to turn the lights on for the unclassified portion of the next milCloud iteration, company executives told a group of reporters Friday. MilCloud 2.0 will go live at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama and Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.

The classified portion will then go online between six and 12 months later, they said. And between 15 and 20 DOD customers have signed up for milCloud 2.0 already, which led CSRA to speed up its work and anticipated timeline for turning on the system. They are now three months ahead of schedule, company officials said.

In either unclassified or classified setup, the goal is to have the same functionalities for users at both, said Donald Robinson, vice president and chief technology officer for CSRA’s defense group.

“They’re going to have the same look and feel,” he added.

CSRA beat four competitors for the milCloud 2.0 job to build the military’s next on-premise cloud environment. The Defense Information Systems Agency's goal for version 2 is to connect military networks with commercial cloud infrastructures but in a private deployment model.

MilCloud 2.0 is different from milCloud 1.0 in that the original was run by the government. This time around, the contractor will operate the cloud infrastructure on behalf of the government.

Robinson said DISA sought to achieve commercial parity with the new milCloud, which “allowed us to introduce new services that would benefit (DOD) as we see the demand and need for.”

George Batsakis, CSRA’s chief growth officer, touted the company’s bid for milCloud 2.0 as avoiding a tie-in to a particular vendor, plus “designed and engineered for (DOD) on premise, to scale.”

MilCloud 2.0 is also based on a pay-for-use model for DISA, CSRA executives have previously told me. This places more responsibility and risk on the vendor to bring in new tools and services in an effort to bring the agency’s down IT costs.

“Frankly, we’re in this business not to build a competitor to the commercial clouds,” Batsakis said. “We’re building this as an integrator to build a cloud capacity in partnership with DOD so they can have a cloud. We design and engineer it on their behalf, but it’s not a product offering that we sell to other clients.”

CSRA has brought in Red Hat to partner on the curation of operational stacks for milCloud, Robinson said. McAfee has also come in as a partner, he added.

One of government IT’s largest pure-play names, CSRA has significantly expanded its defense and national security footprints in recent months with the wins of milCloud 2.0 and a $2.4 billion IT services contract with an undisclosed Defense Department agency that was the company's biggest recompete.

Then there is its May 2017 acquisition of defense telecommunications provider NES Associates that already is making an impact on milCloud 2.0. A CSRA spokesperson subsequently told me NES’ employees have applied their experience with DISA data centers, mission partners, network security and operations to the program.

CSRA then added intelligence community IT contractor Praxis Engineering Technologies late last year. Those employees have not worked on milCloud yet, but the CSRA spokesperson said “there is nothing standing in the way of them helping in the future.”