DISA plans a new step toward DOD cloud

In keeping with broader federal mandates for IT efficiencies, the Defense Information Systems Agency is pushing forward with cloud strategies for the Defense Department, most recently with a new request for information to launch its enterprise-wide systems engineering solutions.

DISA's goal is to develop the framework, architecture and guidance necessary to move shared DOD services in IT into an interoperable cloud environment, according to DISA. But agency officials recognize that it could be a difficult and complex ascent.

“DOD is at the forefront of the federal cloud evolution. The department’s IT vision is to adopt cloud computing to acquire and operate efficient and agile IT infrastructure,” said Dr. Gerald Doyle, principal director of enterprise engineering at DISA. “However, DOD is also facing significant challenges that may not be seen in other federal agencies or in the private industry, such as the support of multiple security levels and the use of cloud services by warfighters in the tactical environment characterized as disconnected, intermittent connectivity and low bandwidth.”

Doyle said the current RFI and upcoming request for proposals will seek an implementation strategy that focuses on the challenges of theater environment and provides faster, interoperable services for deployed troops.

The familiar issue of security also presents a hurdle for DISA and EWSE, which Doyle said takes particular priority for DOD as it transitions mission-critical data and services to the cloud model.

“Cloud computing is a new and inherently complex undertaking. This elevated complexity gives rise to the possibility that not all the security risks associated with the public cloud are well established,” Doyle said.

To steel against those risks, DISA will initially host a private, on-premise DOD community cloud through its computing services directorate, which will provide the same level of security as current hosted services.

Beyond the security concerns and the inevitable tough road DOD faces in its transition, EWSE strategy is looking toward the future. But Doyle noted that the agency’s efforts must take into account the immature nature of a lot of the cloud services it’s centered on – an issue DISA must carefully balance as its engineers plan its offerings, design the architecture and build the IT infrastructure.

“The concepts of infrastructure as a service, platform as a service and software as a service are all relatively new and while their maturity is improving over time, there is a long way to go,” Doyle said. “The DOD cloud computing technical framework and architecture to be developed here will establish the enterprise-wide solution architecture…and improve interoperability of services developed in the future. It will mature the state-of-the-art.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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Reader comments

Mon, Nov 7, 2011 John Long, Sr Dumfries, VA 22026

Do not reinvent the wheel. Leverage methodology and success achieved with WIN migration to GCCS architecture. Step 1, Establish a COE Model from the best of breed current cloud technology for infrastructure as a service, platform as a service and software as a service. Step 2 create a special engineering design group with cloud and app technology experience to assess modification necessary to meet DOD GIG standards. Results should lead to modified DOD GIG with Cloud architecture components. Step 3 Establish Cloud architecture prototypes (DISA and Service Levels, use existing cloud solutions tos serve as baseline) Step 4 Build, Modify, Test, Train, and Implement. Step 5 Establish separate Security council independent of the engineering team to vet security compliance consistent with DOD and NIST standards.

Mon, Oct 31, 2011 Henry exo-DC

Seems to me that DISA must overcome its long-known not-invented-here disdain and simply tweak and accredit Google Apps for Government, an instance of Amazon EC2, and a few other US-only clouds. Sure they can provide a cloud service too, BUT only for special needs. Raise your hand if you think DISA can do email better than Gmail. (yes, I can see all the raise hands.)

Fri, Oct 28, 2011 Christoph

In all intensive purposes of the matter DISA is one of the world's leading catapults in the starving economy. Not only is the non-foreign sector on our side as PCC and DOD derivatives are concerned, but we are party to a whole laundry-list of the newest form of computer/ network security that come out in the market. The commonwealth could experience more stability financially as far as TCO and ROI go. The forefront for the network world and DHLS are in the clear right-now, amidst the occasional European hacker and the Chinese breaking into our systems by breaking our code. This is exactly where IDG of America should be going into, full speed ahead.

Fri, Oct 28, 2011

My major concern with the DISA cloud is the cost. We provide SAS to other DoD customers and residing on DISA could put us out of business. The other issue with DISA Costs is you really can't get a straight answer about costs. I've tried.

Thu, Oct 27, 2011

This from the same group who blew 400M on NECC and delivered nothing but Powerpoint.

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