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Preparing to Invest: How IT Supports Mission Success

Tom Rascon, NetApp, CTO of DoD and Intelligence Business

August 9, 2016  |  ITES-3H


With federal buying season in full swing, we’ve reached out to our partners and asked them to share their thoughts about the big federal IT investments that will be making an impact on how agencies address the latest IT trends. This week, we are featuring an article from Tom Rascon, the Chief Technology Officer for the Department of Defense and Intelligence business for NetApp’s U.S. Public Sector organizationHere is what Tom has to say:

A few weeks ago, at the Brocade Federal Forum, Terry Halvorsen, Chief Information Officer of the Department of Defense shared a very powerful message with those of us in the IT community. He simply said, “I need industry to bring technology forward.”  At a time when IT is fundamental to mission success, CIOs and their teams are simply so busy they don’t have the time to research every COTS solution that’s out there.

From my perspective, not just as the CTO for Defense and Intelligence Communities at NetApp, but as someone who is heavily invested in the IT and defense community, there are some key IT drivers that will empower the Army to meet its mission.  While federal government mandates, such as the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) and the Cloud First policy, certainly drive investments, the goal in the end is to use IT to support personnel on the home front and in overseas deployment and protect the nation and its vital interests.

One of the most important drivers for federal agencies in recent years has been Cloud First.  As its name implies, the initiative requires agencies to choose cloud-based services in order to improve efficiencies and drive cost savings for agencies while enabling them to improve on government service delivery.   While some agencies have embraced the cloud, there’s still some hesitancy in fully embracing cloud migration based on concerns about the ability to freely move data in and out of the cloud without incurring significant costs.

However, next generation technologies like data fabric, unify data management across different storage media and different cloud providers to facilitate data ingress and egress with minimal costs.  In these next gen data management environments it’s possible to spin up storage requirements quickly, pay via credit card, complete a project – such as application development – and migrate the end product back on premise, mitigating both the need to tie up capital in excess storage capacity, just in case it’s needed, and endure vendor lock-in.

Once the cloud has been embraced as the foundation of new IT, it will be possible for the Army to make strides in data center consolidation and optimization.  Here, two mandates come into play – the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) and its counterpart, the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI).  It’s no secret inside the Beltway that most agencies have had trouble getting a passing grade on data center consolidation over the last few years.  In keeping with its 241 year history of excellence in logistical planning, the Army CIO, Lt. General Robert Ferrell, and his team have approached the DCOI with rigor.  Before migrating any data, Ferrell’s team has invested significant time in defining what a data center is, and by creating a snapshot of data and applications, what data needs to be stored, and how it will be used and accessed.  This level of insight can only lead to better informed decisions when it comes to creating the Army’s next generation data storage environment and that, in turn, supports mission readiness – at home, abroad and in cyberspace.

Want to learn more about next generation data management solutions? Why not attend the Insight conference in September?  You can learn about it here.


Tom Rascon is the Chief Technology Officer for the Department of Defense and Intelligence business for NetApp’s U.S. Public Sector organization.  He joined NetApp in 2015 after a 20 year career in the military.  His service culminated with a five year tour at the Joint Special Operations Command, where he served as Network Operations Support Center Director and later as Deputy CIO.  You can learn more about Tom here.


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