The Pentagon’s spending on cloud computing is set to surge as the agency relies more on technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning to develop new warfighting applications that involve human-machine collaboration.
That’s according to a new report by public-sector contracting analytics firm Govini. The Department of Defense is the biggest spender on IT services among agencies in the federal government, but has been notoriously slow to embrace the cloud.
However, the report notes that is starting to change and fiscal year 2016 “marked a turning point,” as DoD spending on cloud computing increased 31 percent increase to $1.3 billion.
And as the Pentagon accelerates its migration, following a September memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan issued calling on the department to fast track its move to the cloud, that figure is expected to continue rising.
“DoD spending on Cloud is set to surge and government and industry are positioning for the investment funds to flow,” the report said, noting that increased budget for cloud and IT modernization and the call to speed migration as primary drivers.
But the report notes that DoD must continue to make substantial investments in Big Data and cloud so that advances in machine learning and AI can reach their full potential, which it described as “ the key to realizing the full revolutionary potential of autonomous systems.”
The Pentagon spent $7.4 billion combined in fiscal year 2017 on AI, Big Data and cloud computing, which is 32 percent higher than what was spent on those three categories five years ago. That growth, according to the report, reflects both new DoD technological applications as well as a number of successful technological apps available from the private sector. AI and Big Data, in particular, the report noted, are among key factors driving the DoD to transition to the cloud.
“These new applications will be the primary drivers of an emerging military-technical revolution,” the report said. “Unfortunately, DoD will not derive much benefit from its move to the Cloud without demanding much better data hygiene that results in stored data that has been processed, standardized and normalized for use.”