The defense research agency is developing cloud-based networks that can remain operational even under cyber attack.
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers
The research arm of the Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking to develop cloud-computing-based infrastructure that builds resiliency directly into the network to more effectively support military missions.
Through a project called the Mission-oriented Resilient Clouds (MRC) program, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) aims to build a cloud-based network that will preserve "mission effectiveness" even in the event of a cyber attack, according to an announcement of a Proposer's Day for the project that DARPA is hosting May 26.
The program is a companion to the agency's existing Clean-slate design of Resilient, Adaptive, Secure Hosts (CRASH) program, which aims to provide security by limiting vulnerabilities in each host of a cloud-computing infrastructure.
The research is aimed at supporting the federal government's cloud-first policy, which is "accelerating DOD toward cloud computing and shared enterprise service," said Dave Mihelcic, the Defense Information Systems Agency's CTO, according to the announcement. U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra mandated the policy in December, requiring federal agencies to identify three existing systems that could move to the cloud and asking them to consider the cloud first when developing new projects.
Because of the nature of its missions and projects, however, the DOD wants to ensure that cloud infrastructure is not only secure but is built to withstand an attack that may take down portions of the network, which is where MRC comes in.
"Today's hosts, of course, are highly vulnerable, but even if the hosts within a cloud are reasonably secure, any residual vulnerability in the hosts will be amplified dramatically," according to DARPA. "DARPA believes that we must not only address host vulnerabilities but must also pursue clean-slate approaches to the design of networked computations and cloud-computing infrastructures."
The announcement does not give many specific details about the program, but said the agency will soon make a broad agency announcement about it on FedBizOpps.gov. Shortly after, more information about MRC will be available on DARPA's website.
The DOD is the agency responsible for fighting cyberwars in addition to engaging in traditional means of warfare, and is seeking technology to complete this mission more effectively.
The military arm already is making forays into leveraging the cloud. The Army is in the process of migrating a series of disparate e-mail systems to a private cloud hosted by the DISA.
As projects like this and others become more prevalent, the DOD must consider not only security of cloud infrastructure but also resiliency in case of a cyber attack, which is a very real possibility. Gen. Keith Alexander, NSA director and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, has said publicly that 250,000 probes try to find their way into the DOD network every hour.
DARPA aims to explore several means to achieving this goal through the MRC project, including providing redundant hosts, correlating attack information from across the ensemble, and providing for diversity across the network, according to the proposers' day announcement.
Join InformationWeek Government for a virtual event on cybersecurity best practices and government IT. It happens May 25. Download it here. (Free with registration.)
2014 Next-Gen WAN SurveyWhile 68% say demand for WAN bandwidth will increase, just 15% are in the process of bringing new services or more capacity online now. For 26%, cost is the problem. Enter vendors from Aryaka to Cisco to Pertino, all looking to use cloud to transform how IT delivers wide-area connectivity.
Server Market SplitsvilleJust because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.