Every day, more and more government organizations are moving IT functions and data storage to the cloud. Early last month, the U.S. Department of Defense signed a multimillion-dollar contract to encourage organizations under its umbrella to move to the cloud. While the needs of public-sector entities differ from those of the private sector, there are some hard-won data security lessons corporations have learned—such as encryption key management and the use of cryptographic gateways—that can be useful for government organizations as they plan and execute a migration to the cloud.
After the success of the Defense Information Systems Agency’s bold step in 2013 to build an on-premise cloud platform called the milCloud 1.0 Cloud Service Offering based on commercial technology, the agency went for more with milCloud version 2.0, driven by extraordinary customer interest, cloud computing’s advantages and cost savings. Unlike milCloud 1.0, for which mission partners paid a monthly fee regardless of usage, version 2.0 is utility-based, and customers only pay for what they use. This allows military customers to scale usage up or down depending on operational requirements.
Defense Information Systems Agency mission partners will soon be able to take advantage of cloud computing and storage at up to 70 percent cost savings. The agency’s milCloud 2.0, a commercial-grade private cloud for defense customers scheduled to achieve initial operational capability next month, spreads out costs among many customers and makes infrastructure upgrades more affordable. MilCloud 2.0 also will offer customers much-needed agility, an important feature for warfighters who must respond dynamically to ever-changing threats.
CSRA LLC of Fairfax, Virginia, is being awarded a $7,357,125 blanket purchase agreement (BPA) to provide cloud computing services for the Department of Navy (DON) Research and Development Enterprise (NR&DE). The BPA will support a DON Cloud Services pilot program conducted by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) on behalf of 16 DON warfare centers to create a NR&DE Cloud Brokerage. The one-year BPA includes two one-year options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative potential value to $34,698,390. Work will be performed Fairfax, Virginia, and work is expected to be completed September 7, 2018.
Many U.S. government sectors, including defense, intelligence, public safety, cybersecurity and space, have seen a recent shift toward embracing new technologies and methodologies for delivering capabilities in a more responsive, agile manner.
The ecosystem of technologies that is driving this innovation is diverse to say the least. The foundation of this ecosystem is the underlying IT infrastructure. The evolution of hyperconverged infrastructure is maximizing the density of computing power, random-access memory and storage in these modern data centers, making it easier and more cost effective for providers to leverage and deploy applications and solutions.
Cloud computing is fast becoming the new normal. It can increase efficiency and improve cash flow, making it an attractive and necessary service for both industry and government.
As part of SIGNAL’s executive video series, Editor-in-Chief Robert K. Ackerman sat down with Jasson Walker Jr., founder, president and CEO of cFocus Software Inc., to discuss authority to operate (ATO) as a service. The company’s main focus is providing customers risk management framework compliance when they are looking to move to the cloud.
The U.S. Defense Department has initiated a market research effort to identify potential industry sources under a potential five-year, $325 million acquisition program for technical support services. The market research effort could potentially lead to a contract award this fiscal year.
The move to cloud computing is daunting enough for corporations and governments, but add in the advancing Internet of Things, and any hopes of simple solutions to challenges vanish. The exponential growth of networked devices increases the magnitude of uncertainty about the role the cloud will play in delivering this ubiquitous connectivity.
As the U.S. federal government overcomes the challenges of moving data to the cloud, disruptive changes in research, development and operations may emerge. Military and civil government organizations are seeking similar outcomes as they attempt to migrate their data services to the cloud. The federal government, specifically, is counting on the cloud to help clear up the fog of acquisition and the morass of inefficiency. Experts believe that growing data storage on the cloud can be achieved without complex and costly procurements, and new capabilities and security measures can be deployed much faster when needed.
While it’s clear the cloud is the future of government IT, concerns surrounding cloud security continue to abound. Some agency IT personnel remain skittish about handing over data to cloud service providers and skeptical that the data will remain out of the hands of bad actors. As a result, they’re more comfortable housing information in legacy IT systems, even if those systems are, in some cases, decades old and prone to security vulnerabilities.
In truth, deploying a cloud IT infrastructure is ideal for managing today’s ever-changing threat landscape, for several reasons. Here are three reasons why.
Taking advantage of the hybrid cloud environment is the smart thing to do, said Terry Halvorsen, U.S. Defense Department chief information officer.
“We would be completely stupid if we didn’t take advantage of hybrid cloud environment,” Halvorsen said while addressing audience at the AFCEA TechNet Asia-Pacific conference in Honolulu.
He went on to say the department will have a cloud solution providing a set of basic enterprise services, such as email, chat, video and file share. “They will be modeled after commercial, and it will be probably in partnership with a commercial provider,” he said.
An impression exists among senior government officials that moving command, control, communication, computers and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems into the cloud is overhyped. They question whether this will improve operational effectiveness. I admit I once shared these reservations, but recently evolved on the subject and now see a compelling rationale for moving C4ISR into the cloud.
A cluster of macrotechnologies offers the potential for a new wave of innovation that revolutionizes all aspects of government, military and civilian life. Many of these technologies are familiar, and their effects are well-known. What may not be common knowledge is that the more these technologies advance, the more their synergies increase.
One of the biggest advances in the near future likely will be the convergence of major military networks into one unified Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN), predicts Ronald Pontius, deputy to the commanding general, U.S. Army Cyber Command and Second Army. And that network will be operated and maintained by Signal Corps soldiers.
The CIA’s newest directorate consolidates several technology business units into one hub organization focused on deeply embracing innovative approaches and capabilities throughout the agency. As part of an effort to make digitization commonplace in both operations and analysis, the CIA also will work with industry to speed up the adoption of cutting-edge technologies. To start, the agency will add some of the latest data capabilities in the infosphere, and then it will nurture new technologies as they emerge from laboratories in government and industry.
In 2011, then-U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra set the stage for federal agencies to take full advantage of cloud computing benefits through the Cloud First initiative, which mandates that agencies evaluate cloud options before making any new information technology investments. Since then, several agencies, including the General Services Administration, Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture and NASA, have embraced the cloud.
Remember this scene from The Graduate?
Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Turns out, plastics was pretty hot. Great tip, Mr. McGuire. I wonder what, if anything, Benjamin did with that tip. More importantly, what is the one word for today?
I think I have it. The word is Cambric. Cambric the finely woven linen? No, CAMBRIC the finely woven acronym:
The Marine Corps’ development of its own private cloud serves both a functional role in information technology and an operational role in the Corps. Yet challenges remain to its effective exploitation.
In 2013, Wired magazine declared that “The Cloud Revolution is Dead.” The cloud revolution did not end because it failed; on the contrary, it ended because it was a resounding success. The business community reaped the benefits of migrating to cloud architectures in both economic efficiency and customer interface, and it is not going back. Defense Department information technology systems are economically unsustainable, but the department only now is catching the revolutionary spirit of the cloud, and adoption is slow and not in line with advances in the commercial sector.
General Dynamics Information Technology, Fairfax, Virginia, will provide strategic support for the design and development of a "Cloud-of-Clouds" information technology (IT) transformation initiative at Sandia National Laboratories, a federally funded research and development center for the National Nuclear Security Administration. General Dynamics will assist in modernizing Sandia’s IT environment by developing the foundation for sustainable, cost-effective cloud computing capabilities for the lab. The company also will develop the business framework, processes, service models, technical architecture and implementation plans that will guide Sandia’s staff as it deploys the new IT model.