Defense CIO Wants to Speed Adoption of Cloud, Mobile Technologies

Teri Takai, CIO of the U.S. Defense Department WASHINGTON -- U.S. Department of Defense CIO Teri Takai intends to move the agency's IT in a more mainstream direction to help speed adoption of new technologies, particularly the cloud and mobile.

This approach may mean big changes to the DOD's back end, such as less reliance on legacy, customized systems and consolidation in favor of standardization.

"We are not going to be able to move, in any way, into a cloud environment if we do not move to a more standardized environment," Takai said at a forum Thursday sponsored by market research firm Input.

Takai, who spoke to an audience of largely government contractors, has a broad background . She spent 30 years at Ford Motor Co. in strategy setting roles, before moving to the public sector, most recently as California's CIO.

Takai, who was appointed the Defense Department's CIO last year, oversees an IT budget of nearly $33 billion. The overall defense budget is about $708 billion.

A key priority for Takai will be adoption of mobile technologies. The military has long relied on specially built devices for its communication needs. But there is also growing demand in the department to use consumer mobile technologies, such as the iPhone , iPad , Android smartphones , Blackberries, and other devices.

"We are not in a position today to be able to leverage those technologies in a way that we need to and that we want to going forward," Takai said. "Bringing new technologies in more quickly is one of our highest priorities."

The Defense Department's IT operations are "very stovepipe, legacy systems," said Deniece Peterson, an analyst at Input.

Takai's call for standardization is a goal the government has been heading toward but "progress has been limited on a broad scale," Peterson said and she she expects Takai to increase focus on this issue.

The DOD also plans to consolidate its 772 data centers, a move the White House is asking all its agencies to do, but Takai said planning is in its initial stages and she couldn't say what the consolidation goal will be.

Regarding ever-present problem of security , Takai said that "the kinds of threats and challenges that we're facing are growing exponentially."

"The targeted attacks on DOD are increasing significantly, and they are no longer coming from individuals, but they are coming from groups that are very well organized," Takai said, citing the group Anonymous as one of the threats.

DOD Deputy Secretary William Lynn, in an article he wrote for Foreign Affairs last October, said more "than 100 foreign intelligence organizations are trying to break into U.S. networks."

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com .

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