As the Department of Defense (DoD) looks to accelerate the move to an enterprise cloud environment, experts say to focus on speeding application modernization, rather than the specific cloud solution itself.

That was one of the main takeaways from MeriTalk’s The Time is Now: Accelerating DoD Enterprise Cloud webinar on July 29, featuring Travis Methvin, Deputy Director, Business, Strategy, and Resources, PEO Digital, U.S. Navy, and Jim Matney, Vice President and General Manager, Defense Information Systems Agency and Enterprise Services Sector, GDIT.

Recent MeriTalk research found that 84 percent of DoD IT leaders say accelerating enterprise cloud migration is vital to meeting the needs of our nation’s warfighters. However, Methvin hopes as the DoD continues to modernize, it can shift its focus away from cloud migration and to modernization as a whole for the warfighter.

“I’m really hoping as [the DoD] transitions out of enterprise cloud service enablements and into organizational realignment, we can stop using the word ‘cloud,’ and start talking about modernization and how we’re doing it,” Methvin said. “Because cloud is really just one of the tools for modern service delivery – what we really need to look at is the application design and development.”

As for how the DoD goes about modernizing its applications, Methvin said the biggest challenges he sees right now are a lack of funding and having talented personnel to get the job done. With 31 percent of DoD IT leaders attributing enterprise cloud migration delays to lack of funding or access to funding, and another 31 percent to the personnel and skills gap, these challenges remain consistent across the board.

“What I really see is the lack of funding and access to funding, and it’s not for large enablement,” Methvin said. “But it has to get down to the modernization of applications and how we’re getting after that because most of these applications are in a sustainment tale. And it’s not that they have the dollars to go out and modernize or refactor their application to support, so we have to address the personnel and the skills gap.”

Matney agreed with Methvin that workforce talent plays a huge role when modernizing applications and migrating to the cloud.

“Whatever application you plan to migrate into the cloud…it’s going into a different environment than your current workforce is used to operating in,” Matney said. “That means you have to be able to upskill the workforce to manage a different virtualization environment and pick a cloud, while also managing existing current data centers.”

But picking a cloud solution should not be the focus, Matney emphasized. Instead, Matney echoed Methvin’s sentiment of shifting the focus away from the type of cloud and towards accessing solutions that best serve the warfighter.

“As we build our capabilities, we have to look at it from the standpoint of, ‘Okay, what is the best platform for being able to build out this capability at the speed of relevance that can support the warfighter,’” he advised. “Not really look at ‘Okay, should it be in this specific cloud or that specific cloud,’ but what is going to get that capability the fastest to the warfighter itself.”

Watch the on-demand webinar to hear more on accelerating DoD enterprise cloud.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.