These days, to serve the backbone corporate needs for more than 100,000 employees globally means betting big on the cloud.\n\nThat\u2019s what James Hannah, SVP and global CIO of General Dynamics Information Technology, has done in partnership with the Reston, Va.-based aerospace and defense contractor\u2019s 10 business units, each of which has its own CIO who works autonomously to make decisions about each division\u2019s use of digital technologies for its unique business.\n\nAnd the results are truly multicloud, as Hannah has opted to work with all the top cloud vendors to fill the company\u2019s various back-office needs \u2014 AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Oracle Cloud \u2014 as well as Workday for HR and other SaaS vendors for specific needs. GDIT is now 100% on the cloud, having closed its final brick-and-mortar data center at the end of last year. \n\n\u201cWe\u2019ve gone through our digital transformation already and migrated all of our application workloads into either an IaaS or SaaS environment,\u201d says Hannah, whose focus is primarily on corporate systems, leaving each of GD\u2019s other business unit open to make their own selections. \u201cThey\u2019re free to go to whatever cloud they need to meet the needs of their customers,\u201d he says.\n\nStill, the 10 units are not all islands. Hannah\u2019s IT division collaborates with and serves the needs of its \u201csister\u201d business units where it makes sense, such as hosting financial applications for some business units. And there are overarching digital technologies that traverse General Dynamics\u2019 business portfolio, such as security, toward which all units are working to implement zero trust across the board.\n\nBut Hannah is clear about his mission, which is to provide critical services to the employees who serve GDIT\u2019s high-level customers within the US government\u2019s military-industrial complex and partners around the globe. It is not a candy store.\n\nAnd in doing so, GDIT\u2019s full cloud migration, which started pre-pandemic, is paying off nicely. \n\nLaying the multicloud foundation\n\nWhen the IT division started its digital transformation, Hannah and his team performed a thorough assessment of General Dynamics\u2019 corporate workloads to determine which cloud would be best based on functionality. As part of that process, integrations with other systems and applications were taken into consideration to avoid workloads \u201ctraversing from cloud to cloud\u201d or \u201cbouncing all over,\u201d Hannah says.\n\n\u201cI think that the clouds are quite good. We saw a lot of reduction in cost,\u201d he says. \u201cWe were able to get better metrics and reporting. And it increased or strengthened our DR [disaster recovery] posture overall.\u201d\n\nThe next move, Hannah says, is to delve deeper into how GDIT can evolve more corporate assets into cloud-native, virtualized applications that can be optimized for the scalability, flexibility, and cost savings of its 100% multicloud infrastructure. Hannah\u2019s team is also constantly learning how to strengthen and shift workloads to optimize performance and, in some cases, move workloads from IaaS to SaaS when it makes sense.\n\n\u201cThat\u2019s part of the evolution to the cloud,\u201d he says. \u201cYou\u2019re not going to be in a constant state of transformation. For me, it\u2019s more of an evolution, assessing workloads and making sure they are still where they need to be.\u201d \n\nGDIT has also automated many tasks within its finance systems such as accounts payable for inter- and intra-company transfers as well as for HR and IT business areas.\n\nNone of this is surprising for an IT division of a major enterprise these days, and GDIT is big \u2014 roughly 30,000 IT employees tend to General Dynamics\u2019 corporate needs.\n\nSkilling up and battening down\n\nGeneral Dynamics\u2019 overall CTO leadership group is looking at generative AI and the implications and governance around it and how it could be potentially used with customers, Hannah says. But for a defense contractor \u2014 which manufactures nuclear submarines, aerospace systems, and combat systems, among other defense units \u2014 it is a very complex operation that has just begun, he adds.\n\nStill, the CIO has made use of machine learning models available from one of its cloud providers to train employees for the rapidly evolving digital era and impart upward mobility within GDIT. The initiative is part of GDIT\u2019s Career Hub, which provides employees with training recommendations around skills and certifications to help level up their careers, Hannah says.\n\n\u201cSince going live with that AI modeling capability, we\u2019ve seen about a 30% increase in internal applications driven directly from the Career Hub,\u201d he says.\n\nEmployees simply upload their resume or LinkedIn profile to Career Hub and the AI recommends current job openings, similar to the way Netflix makes movie recommendations, the CIO says. It also ties into the company\u2019s learning and development system, providing skills and certification training recommendations that will help employees reach job openings they may not have thought of as suitable because they may presently have only 80% of the required skills.\n\nHannah is also deploying automation for lower-level repetitive tasks, freeing up GDIT employees to work on more complex tasks, such as rolling out automation within finance to enable speedier metrics, for example. In this way, GDIT\u2019s use of automation helps employees continuously gain skills that not only allow greater efficiencies for the company but greater mobility for IT employees.\n\nBut if there\u2019s one thing that keeps Hannah up at night, it\u2019s security, which is pivotal for any enterprise, but especially a defense contractor. GDIT and all 10 business units are waiting for executive orders and guidance as part of a three-year security program currently under way. Still, cybersecurity remains Hannah\u2019s primary focus now and over the next 12 months even as the top brass work on the comprehensive security plan.\n\n\u201cThe focus is on transforming and evolving the cyber tools that we have \u2026 that\u2019s the primary focus with the threats in this environment,\u201d Hannah says. \u201cWe\u2019re always under the watchful eyes of bad actors throughout the world. Being part of a group that always has a target on your back means you need to make sure you\u2019re always looking at all the technologies available to improve your cyber posture as you move forward.\u201d\n\nGartner analyst Daniel Snyder says the US government and military is relying heavily on partnerships with defense contractors such as General Dynamics to transform. \n\n\u201cThe Department of Defense relies on thousands of networks that are vital to execute its mission. Over the course of the past few decades, the development process has resulted in layers of stove-piped systems that are difficult to integrate,\u201d he says, noting that as part of its digital transformation strategy, the DoD is overhauling its IT infrastructure to leverage the cloud.\n\n\u201cMuch of the future success is hinging on the support of its industrial base with systems integrators such as General Dynamics, Leidos, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman,\u201d he says.