DISA plans analytic cloud; looks to NSA's model

DISA's planned 'Acropolis' cloud environment will provide situational cybersecurity awareness, data analysis to detect threats.

concept art for cloud services

The Defense Information Systems Agency is moving ahead with plans for an analytical cloud environment focused on cybersecurity and cloud-based enterprise services for Defense Department agencies.

DISA plans to launch an analytic cloud, dubbed Acropolis, to provide situational awareness in cybersecurity, which will hinge on the use of big data to detect and respond to threats. The cloud will be used to aggregate, correlate, reduce and analyze cyber threats, including insider threats, according to documents from the agency's Aug. 9 industry day event at Fort Meade, Md.

The agency will take a cue from its neighbor, the National Security Agency, gathering and analyzing large amounts of data already coming in for network operations and defense.

"We moved up to Fort Meade for a reason. And part of that reason is to take advantage of the neighborhood. … These guys know how to build analytic clouds down the street," said Mark Orndorff, DISA program executive officer for mission assurance and network operations, according to a FierceGovernmentIT report. "So, we're going to adopt those techniques, technology that NSA has leveraged and built over the years – maybe do some tweaking and adjustments to our specific requirements – but we certainly aren't going to start from scratch as we build out the analytic cloud."

The data comes from a range of sources: different types of sensors, incident reporting and internal IT infrastructure and applications. Information also comes from DOD defense industrial base partners and the Defense Cyber Crime Center.

DISA also is expanding cloud services, with some projects already complete and a number of others under way.

Software-as-a-service offerings, including enterprise email, as well as platform-as-a-service capabilities, including messaging, data and content delivery, already are available, as are key IT infrastructure services. DISA is working on enterprise sharing and storefront services, identity and access management capabilities and wireless local area network services.

Virtual desktop infrastructure and unified capabilities that target interoperability through improved, always-available communications are priorities at DISA that remain works in progress. .

"With your mobile devices and the desktop, once you start leveraging things in the cloud space, your information follows you wherever you go. Everything is right there at your fingertips, whether you're at the desktop or your mobile device," said Jennifer Carter, DISA acquisition executive, according to Federal News Radio. "We really are looking for interoperable capabilities in an open, standardized environment."

A request for proposals for virtual desktop infrastructure services is due out in the second quarter of fiscal 2014, with an award expected in the third quarter, according to DISA.

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