Defense cloud contract open to competition (again)

DOD's de facto cloud broker plans to cancel sole-source contract for unnamed intelligence agency and seek new proposals for private cloud.

concept art for cloud services

The Defense Information Systems Agency wants competition for a sole-source contract it originally awarded in April for big data cloud storage.

In a May 20 notice, DISA said it would cancel a $45 million deal with Hanover, Maryland-based Alliance Technology Group to develop an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) private cloud for an unnamed intelligence agency.

It appears other potential competitors came to light, giving DISA another opportunity to put to bid a contract that signals a shift in the intelligence community’s cloud and big data plans.

The justification and approval for the original sole-source award allowed industry more time to respond, DISA said in the notice. “Based upon capability statements and responses received, DISA plans to pursue competitive means through the National Security Agency Acquisition Resource Center to satisfy the requirement.”

When it justified the original award to Alliance Technology Group in April, DISA stated it did not have the capacity within its internal IT infrastructure – or funds to make necessary upgrades – to accommodate data on the scale of several exabytes, as would be provided by the large data object storage cloud. Each exabyte is equivalent to 1 million terabytes.

DISA wanted a cloud that will accommodate current and future data types, according to its original justification, including Wide Area Motion Imagery (WAMI), Standard and High Definition (HD) Full Motion Video (FMV), HyperSpectral, Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) and SAR data formats.

The cloud must also be Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) compliant, meaning it can ingest, access and manage geospatial data, and all its OGC services must be easily searchable.

Such a cloud would store information from myriad data sources, like Defense Department intelligence sensors and the U.S. Air Force's Gorgon Stare, meaning it can ingest the wide-area surveillance data from drones and other sources.

Regardless of who wins when contract bidding is done, DISA's descriptions suggest the result will be critical to future IC missions.

"The assistant secretary of defense has articulated a vision for transforming the information environment within DOD," the justification document stated. "The envisioned changes represent a fundamental paradigm shift from providing platform-centric applications to platform-independent web-enabled net-centric services that meet the requirements of the end users, and which are highly available, secure and reliable.”

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