CSRA CEO Larry Prior said his company helped the Defense Department overcome its concerns around the cloud through an approach that prioritized security above anything else.
The Falls Church-Va.-based company, No. 14 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500, was awarded a $498 million, eight-year contract to provide the Department of Defense (DoD) with robust and resilient private cloud infrastructure for highly-protected workloads.
The deal will enable the Defense Department to consolidate its computing infrastructure by moving to an "as-a-Service model," which Prior said will substantially lower the DoD's total cost of ownership. CSRA's private cloud platform will streamline the onboarding of Defense Department customers, Prior said, thus reducing costs, boosting efficiency, and improving the government's overall security posture.
"We're now positioned as the industry leader for cloud and military IT," Prior told Wall Street analysts Wednesday. "With stringent security concerns, the Defense Department has lagged a bit behind other government organizations in the movement to the cloud. Now, the department is ready to take the next step in IT transformation."
CSRA has an open environment in the software stack of its private cloud thanks to a partnership with Red Hat, Prior said, meaning that government forensics experts would have 100 percent access and visibility anywhere within CSRA's stack in the event of a security breach.
The public sector solution provider would both welcome government forensics experts below the control plane – which is responsible for routing – as well as provide them with unfettered access to CSRA's cloud inside the federal government's firewall, Prior said.
"The barrier to adoption was the commitment and recognition that security was the first and foremost requirement," Prior said. "It's an inflection point for how they think about cloud."
CSRA hopes to extend their authorization on this contract to cover the Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services public clouds, Prior said, as well as the ability to add both compute and storage capabilities. Expanding the contract beyond private cloud infrastructure to cover options around public cloud, storage or databases could increase the value of the deal beyond $750 million, according to Prior.
(Editor's note: CSRA followed up with a statement to clarify that its DoD contract "is currently capped by the $498 million ceiling price." The company noted that its CEO was being aspirational with the statement above. "CSRA always strives to demonstrate its value, with hopes that, in time, our customers will see fit to expand our work," the statement said.)
Prior said CSRA's challenge is to align its business model with how Azure and AWS think about the future, while at the same time keeping cloud easy and palatable for a DoD customer.
"If you don't have that private cloud focused on security inside the deck, you'll never expand that ATO [authority to operate] to cover the wonderful public cloud work that AWS or Azure are doing," Prior said.