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First-ever signed Cloud Strategy moves the Coast Guard one critical step closer to modernization

By Shana Brouder, MyCG Writer

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The Deputy Commandant for Mission Support (DCMS), Deputy Commandant for Operations (DCO) and the Chief Information Officer (CIO) signed into action the first-ever Coast Guard Cloud Strategy, highlighting a pivotal turning point in the service’s modernization strategy to improve mission readiness across directorates and districts alike. 

“Coast Guard access to Cloud Services and the resulting Cloud capabilities are vital to the success of modernization efforts,” explained acting Chief Data Officer and Chief Enterprise Architect, Mark Bortle, about how the need for a Cloud Strategy came to be. “It is the logical next step in the Tech Revolution and will enable and support modernization goals. Combined with the Data Strategy, the Cloud Strategy will support the Coast Guard’s ability to achieve the highest readiness posture.”

The Federal Cloud Computing Strategy defines “the cloud” as an array of solutions that offer many capabilities and management options—including on-demand service, broad network access and resource pooling—to enhance mission and service delivery.

Bortle explains, “Cloud services allows processing to be completed on cloud-enabled applications and resources that are pooled and configured to provide security, unlimited scalability and continuity of operations. Coast Guard applications that impact both business and operations can be rapidly created, tested, and deployed with cloud services combined with DevSecOps software development methodology.”

In simplest terms, the cloud makes it possible to rapidly deploy capabilities to Coast Guard units, mission and support operations, and personnel, no matter the location, to increase readiness. Most of us experience cloud capabilities combined with data services in everyday life with capabilities such as CARFAX, Amazon, or Google Maps and are familiar with the potential of near real-time response.  

The implementation of the Cloud Strategy in combination with the Data Strategy will make it possible to bring information and services to Coast Guard mission operators faster and more efficiently. As the Coast Guard increases its use of sensors, imaging, vessel tracking and more, rapid access to these data is vital to supporting mission readiness outcomes.

“Readiness and modernization are connected,” said Bortle. “It’s not just about the legacy technology and infrastructure that need to be migrated away from, but thinking through the processes our people are working day-to-day to execute in support of business and operational needs; these will need to be modified with a modern infrastructure to be successful.”  

Cloud services will ultimately improve mission execution by enabling faster access to data and more reliable, resilient applications for our field operators. 

For example, future cloud-based applications can enhance the vessel inspection process by enabling relevant historical case data to be to rapidly synchronized with new image and vessel operational data to increase situational awareness and port safety. For logistics support operations, cloud services combined with artificial intelligence (AI) will enable asset data to be evaluated in the context of known conditions or dependencies, such as asset deployments, to improve operations and mitigate issues.

The strategic objectives outlined in the Cloud Strategy and subsequent guiding principles provide a framework for the Coast Guard’s modernization efforts over the next five years. They are: 

  • Providing global transformational cloud capabilities to the Coast Guard workforce and mission partners, particularly those at the tactical edge.
  • Develop cloud expertise within the Coast Guard workforce. 
  • Institutionalize cloud governance.
  • Enrich cybersecurity posture and advance operational agility.
  • Leverage the benefits of the cloud to better surge and respond, and enhance mission readiness. 

Make ready for artificial intelligence/machine learning. 

“The new Cloud Strategy directly supports the Coast Guard’s Technology Revolution lines of efforts: cutter connectivity, modernization, cyber readiness, data for decisions, software development, and a mobile workforce,” explains Rear Adm. Dave Dermanelian, Assistant Commandant for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Information Technology.

While Coast Guard personnel may need to wait a while longer to see the benefits of the cloud on the largest scale, the foundation is now in place to ensure they can remain Semper Paratus for many more years to come.

Additional Resources:

  • MyCG Article: Coast Guard's first Data Strategy guides the way forward for data readiness and well-informed decision making