SAN DIEGO – Patrick Shanahan, deputy secretary for the Department of Defense, has taken the lead for broader cloud adoption at the agency and used a Feb. 6 press gaggle at the AFCEA West conference to explain his optimism for that technology.

The cloud is part of Shanahan’s broader philosophy to “re-wire technology” across the department.

Here’s what he said about the Defense Department’s cloud strategy:

- “The cloud is not our goal. Our goal is to get a lot of our data into an environment where we can make better decisions.” This is a common talking point across the DoD and civilian government agencies as leaders want to move away from what they describe as “siloed” information and into an environment where they can quickly integrate data from a variety of sources. Once that’s done, officials believe they can create new efficiencies that would could save time and money.

- Shanahan said he wants a cloud strategy that can scale departmentwide. This is no easy task as the DoD represents the government’s largest user base and largest IT department.

- “If you’re moving to the cloud, then you have to stop doing something you’re doing today. The thing I want to ensure does not happen is that we keep the legacy systems and move to an environment where we can be more productive.” About 80 percent of IT spending across the federal government is thought to be spent on legacy infrastructure. At some agencies, that figure tops 90 percent.

- “Cloud is a huge enabler so that we can get to something industry has done for a long time and that is have enterprisewide services. The fact that the Army has its own financial system, the Navy ... that’s all redundancy that comes with cost.” Cloud, Shanahan alluded to, would allow a move to one financial system. This technology is often referred to as shared services and is a pillar of the Trump administration’s IT plan.

- “The individual contracts aren’t as important as the cloud strategy that we’re putting in place.” Speaks for itself.

- “What we’re trying to do there is ... we can capture the benefits and how do we make sure we can make it competitive long-term … It’s all about maintaining low, or no, switching costs [between companies].” Shanahan wants competition among cloud providers with lower prices and improved capabilities, so the department can make its dollars go further.