DISA’s view from the cloud

Sienkiewicz explains why DISA set up an internal cloud-computing service and what it means for operations

The Defense Information Systems Agency is one of the first government organizations to commit to building an internal cloud. It has been running pilot programs for as many 1,000 users, and it recently announced its Rapid Access Computing Environment, which will enable the agency to deliver cloud-based computing services to developers and testers within 24 hours of a request. Those users will be able to provision cloud services in a production environment beginning Oct. 1.

Henry Sienkiewicz, technical adviser at DISA’s Computing Services Directorate, explains why the agency set up the new service and what it means for operations.

FCW: Why did DISA decide to adopt cloud computing?

Sienkiewicz: [DISA is] a provider of information services to [the Defense Department] community, [and cloud computing] will allow us the flexibility to rapidly scale up and down the delivery of those services. Through standardization, we’ll also be able to use a much more managed approach that will help us reduce costs.

FCW: Did you have any concerns about moving to the cloud?

Sienkiewicz: Traditionally, our developers have had their own boxes by their side, so there was the change in culture to consider. Also, we as an agency have to assist the rest of the [DOD] community through the use of standards, so we have to make sure that services are created that use only the best coding practices. And then there was the cost involved in all of this, as DISA does not get appropriated funds.

FCW: How does cloud computing affect the data center?

Sienkiewicz: The user-centric focus of cloud computing is forcing that change in the role of the data center. We as an institution have been good at throwing hardware and resources at things, but the ebb and flow of the cloud is a lot different for us both as providers and as users. It makes us think through data center problems in a different way.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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