DISA sees opportunity in commercial cloud mandate

Officials at the Defense Information Systems Agency are considering the possibility of offering “brokering services” to defense customers who are interesting in buying commercial cloud services.

The idea is to make it easier for defense agencies to buy a mix of commercial and private cloud services, depending on what would be most appropriate for a given requirement, said Alfred Rivera, director of DISA’s computing services directorate.

DISA offers a number of enterprise IT services as part of its Rapid Access Computing Environment, through which vendors offer computing services on demand. Its portfolio includes cloud-based enterprise e-mail, with the Army being its first major customer. The directorate also is developing an enterprise SharePoint service, which is currently being tested by 14,000 users at the Network Enterprise Technology Command.

However, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 directed the Defense Department to give first priority to commercial cloud providers, before turning to government-only options. The legislation also directed Army officials to provide Congress with information on the competitive process used to select DISA as its service provider, as well as details on the effectiveness of the e-mail service and its potential application to the other military services.

In theory, the addition of a brokering service would give defense agencies some flexibility in selecting the right the right solution. For example, a commercial service might be the appropriate platform for a software development environment, but the final application might require the security of a government cloud, Rivera said.

Or perhaps an agency’s primary systems might run in a government cloud, but a public cloud could provide continuity of operations in the event of an emergency, he said.

At this point, no decision has been made about offering such a service, according to Rivera.

About the Author

John Monroe is Senior Events Editor for the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, where he is responsible for overseeing the development of content for print and online content, as well as events. John has more than 20 years of experience covering the information technology field. Most recently he served as Editor-in-Chief of Federal Computer Week. Previously, he served as editor of three sister publications: civic.com, which covered the state and local government IT market, Government Health IT, and Defense Systems.

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