IBM lands huge $62M private cloud contract with US Army

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IBM Corp. has secured a huge deal with the U.S. Army to build, manage and operate a cloud solution for its Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama.

The deal was described as “a one-year task order with four additional one-year options under the Army Private Cloud 2 contract,” which means it could be worth $62 million if the Army signs on for the full five years. The deal comes two months after IBM revealed it had been chosen by American Airlines as its public cloud services provider. That deal will see Big Blue develop a Peripheral Component Internconnect-compliant e-commerce system on a shared cloud platform, which IBM said was an industry-first.

IBM’s biggest challenge with this deal will be to build a cloud solution that integrates with the Army’s existing infrastructure, while ensuring compliance with security rules. IBM will also provide the Army with Infrastructure-as-a-Service, the base level of cloud computing, in order to deliver efficiencies to its information technology provisioning, and the Army said it plans to migrate up to 35 applications to the private cloud within its first year.

The whole point of the exercise is to overcome the declining efficiencies of the Huntsville arsenal’s existing IT infrastructure, an Army official said. “With this project, we’re beginning to bring the IT infrastructure of the U.S. Army into the 21st century,” Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell, the Army’s chief information officer, said in a statement. “Cloud computing is a game-changing architecture that provides improved performance with high efficiency, all in a secure environment.”

The Army revealed that in order to proceed, the project required Defense Information Systems Agency Impact Level 5 Provisional Authorization to manage controlled, unclassified information. At present, IBM is the only company in the world that’s been authorized to run Infrastructure-as-a-Service solutions at government facilities, making it the obvious choice provider for the Army.

IBM secured this accreditation last February, and the Army said it expects that within a year the company will go one step further and secure DISA IL-6, the agency’s highest level authorization. If that happens, it means IBM will be certified to build, manage and operate infrastructure for classified information up to “secret.”

“Clients today are increasingly looking at the cloud as a pathway to innovation,” said Sam Gordy, general manager of IBM U.S. Federal. “This IBM Cloud solution will provide the Army with greater flexibility and will go a long way toward mitigating, and, in some cases eliminating, the security challenges inherent with multiple ingress and egress points.”

IBM has an existing relationship with the U.S. Army, having agreed to set up its Logistics Support Activity unit with a hybrid cloud solution that connects its on-premises IT to the IBM cloud last year. The Army said IBM is the only private-sector company to date that has been contracted to run large-scale data centers inside military installations.

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