DISA expands cloud services

The Defense Information Systems Agency has given its Defense Department customers a new reason to buy into the concept of cloud computing.

Nearly two years ago, DISA awarded contracts to four vendors for on-demand computing services, in which customers pay for computing and storage capacity on an as-needed basis, rather than buying and maintaining technology hardware and software themselves. However, customers had to go through the Defense Enterprise Computing Center to acquire computing power and develop solutions.

With the Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE), DISA now provides a self-service approach, said Alfred Rivera, director of the agency’s Center for Computing Services. “A Department of Defense user can actually go into a Web-based portal and provision their own operating environment-based on our standard architecture — and within 24 hours it is provisioned for them to do whatever tests or development they want,” he said.

Hewlett-Packard is supplying the technology behind RACE under the company’s existing DISA contract. HP, Apptis, Sun Microsystems and Vion won contracts in late 2006 for on-demand computing power. Vion won a separate contract for on-demand data storage.

“DISA has definitely positioned itself at the forefront of government technology leaders,” said Bill Vass, president and chief operating officer of Sun Microsystems Federal. The DISA cloud-computing infrastructure includes IBM mainframe, Linux and Sun Solaris, among other platforms.

“We do look for other agencies to follow DISA’s lead but also look forward to adjustments in government contracting practices that allow for government agencies to truly take the most advantage of pay-as-you-go computing,” Vass said. 

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