DLA upgrades LMS, reaps cloud benefits

By Lance Carmack and Sara Moore, DLA Information Operations

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In a significant step forward, the Defense Logistics Agency recently upgraded its training-delivery application and moved it into a commercial cloud environment.

The upgrade of the Learning Management System software suite, used to manage and deliver online education courses and training, was the first case of a DoD agency obtaining approval to host an application with sensitive data in the commercial cloud. Using a dedicated, cross-functional team, DLA made sure the effort complied with government security standards to reduce risks. DLA later received Defense Department approval for SAP National Security and Amazon Web Services to host LMS in the commercial cloud.  

DoD’s demand for cloud services has lagged behind the private sector for a number of years as commercial cloud vendors struggled to meet DoD security/accreditation rules for applications with personal information. Putting in the required security for storage of this type of defense data presented a significant challenge.

Teresa Cesario, DLA Information Operations project manager, and Michelle Jacobs, Defense Information Systems Agency Liaison and Hosting director, put together a team to specifically sponsor two vendors — SAPNS2 and AWS — to help them meet DoD rules. The team’s achievement was groundbreaking. Prior to this point, the DoD had not certified commercial cloud vendors for applications like LMS.

For DLA employees, they’re now enjoying a “less cluttered” LMS front page, according to Cesario. It’s also easier for employees to see what training they need and when it’s due. “My Info” is displayed more prominently, among other things, so it’s simpler to update when someone relocates or gets a new supervisor. Most importantly, users of this commercial cloud solution of worldwide servers see improved reliability and speed of content delivery.

As for the bigger picture DLA’s accreditation package — with some 400 security controls — is a baseline other DoD organizations may use to save them months of work. For its part, DISA is using DLA’s feedback to streamline future commercial certifications and help speed the approval process even more.

Cesario confirmed interest from other organizations, “We’ve already been talking to other agencies, exchanged lessons learned and talked about what we’ve been going through and different things. There’s definitely an interest.”

With this upgrade, DLA employees have a new and better capability, and at the same time the agency has blazed a trail in the commercial cloud industry for DoD.