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The US Army has chosen to outsource its IT-infrastructure modernization program that includes data center consolidation, transition to private cloud, use of commercial hosting and data center containers.

The program is called Army Private Cloud (APC2), and US$249.8m has been allocated to fund it over the course of five years.

HP, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman announced this week that they were among the companies chosen to provide services under the program. According to Northrop Grumman, the Army selected a total of five vendors to compete for APC2 contracts.

Commenting on the announcement, Zannie Smith, of General Dynamics, said, “We will leverage our data center expertise and logistics-management skills, as well as our extensive knowledge of the Army’s methodologies and processes to help our customer achieve its goal of providing secure, global access to information, while reducing technology costs and energy usage worldwide.”

The Army chose to outsource these functions because it needs to deploy applications of various levels of criticality quickly and flexibly, according to an APC2 vendor-solicitation memo.

APC2 provides for a lot of flexibility in how every specific application will be deployed, allowing for everything from in-house private cloud to contractor-operated containerized data centers and commercial hosting facilities.

The Army is faced with pressure to optimize its infrastructure from at least two sides. One is the latest round of base realignment and closures – something the Department of Defense (DoD) has been doing periodically since the late 1990s to ensure streamlined operations for the military.

A more recent source of pressure is the government-wide data center consolidation and IT modernization program started by the former federal CIO Vivek Kundra in 2010. The DoD has more data centers than any other government agency and therefore has to shutter more facilities than others do.

The department shut down 55 data centers in fiscal 2011, according to a report it released in November.

The US government as a whole has so far shut down about 250 data centers and has plans to get rid of a total of about 480 by the end of fiscal 2012.