DISA debuts self-service computing

The Defense Information Systems Agency launched a new service this week that gives Defense Department agencies access to on-demand, pay-as-you-go computing.

“It is basically true cloud computing where we give them a certain amount of storage, a certain amount of processing, and they pay for it on a monthly basis,” said Alfred Rivera, director of DISA’s Center for Computing Services. “When they’re done, they can just shut it off.”

Hewlett-Packard is supplying the technology that enables DISA’s Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE). More than a year ago, Hewlett-Packard, Apptis, Sun Microsystems and Vion won contracts to provide on-demand processing power to DISA. In February, Vion won a separate contract to provide on-demand data storage.

The new RACE service is a continuation of HP’s work with DISA.

To use the service, DOD customers go to a Web portal and request an operating environment. Within 24 hours, the operating environment is provisioned for the customer to do whatever testing and development they want. Several operating systems are available, including Linux, Solaris and IBM mainframe.

Previously, customers had to work with DISA to get enterprise computing capacity.

Under the cloud-computing approach, customers do not pay a set amount for access to hardware and software. Instead, the fee is based on actual usage.

For example, if DISA customers require sudden increases in computing services, they will pay more. But once the peak passes, the IT resources are returned to the cloud.

The program should also allow for more flexible funding, Rivera said. Customers will pay for computing resources through their operations and maintenance budgets rather than paying capital costs for hardware or software licenses.

RACE will also help DISA consolidate applications and standardize its IT environment.

The DOD computing environment managed by DISA links more than 3 million users with 18 processing centers, 1,400 applications, 180 software vendors, 18,000 copies of executive software, 45 mainframes and more than 4,500 servers.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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