DOD Moves Forward With Cloud Broker Plans

DISA gets "initial operating capability" to act as Defense Department's cloud services broker, as DOD strives to simplify military groups' acquisition of cloud services.
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The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) got the green light Tuesday to act as a cloud services broker to the Department of Defense's various branches.

DISA is the primary agency that provides IT services and data center facilities to the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. By being granted "initial operating capability," DISA now has the framework in place to function as the key point of contact for all of the DOD's cloud computing needs. The goal is to make it faster and easier for the military to get cloud services without going through a long acquisition process, and to switch from one service to another as needed.

The agency also announced that it has performed cybersecurity assessments of two commercial cloud services providers and has given them "imminent" approval for use by the DOD. According to the FedRAMP website, Autonomic Resources and CGI Federal will be the first providers authorized by the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), and available to the DOD under the cloud broker model.

DISA said it will continue conducting security assessments to expand its future offerings. Additionally, it plans to "evolve and further automate the cloud service request process" and "enhance the security model" in the coming months to accommodate partner requirements.

[ Defense is making strong headway on cloud email. Read DOD Reaches 1 Million Users On Cloud Email. ]

The Defense Department's CIO Teri Takai designated DISA as the agency's cloud broker last June, stating in a memo that it would "perform functions to achieve IT efficiencies, reliability, interoperability, and improve security and end-to-end performance by using cloud service offerings."

The initial operating capability designation announced Tuesday enables DISA to begin functioning as a cloud service broker to the various branches of the U.S. military. Dubbed as the "next-generation cloud acquisition model" by the GSA, the cloud broker -- part process, part technology -- is new in government. DISA and the General Services Administration have both expressed interest in using it.

Last September, DISA released a five-year strategic plan, which included a greater emphasis on enterprise and cloud services. The plan envisions the DOD sharing IT resources across numerous services and relying heavily on cloud computing and mobile technologies, while continuing to meet the military's cybersecurity needs.

DISA's latest announcement comes a week after the agency unveiled plans to award a $45 million cloud computing contract for an intelligence and surveillance information storage cloud. The contract will go to systems integrator Alliance Technology Group, which said it's done business with NASA and the Navy, among other federal agencies. The partnership would enable the agency to securely store "hundreds of billions of objects" that users could access across multiple networks.

A well-defended perimeter is only half the battle in securing the government's IT environments. Agencies must also protect their most valuable data. Also in the new, all-digital Secure The Data Center issue of InformationWeek Government: The White House's gun control efforts are at risk of failure because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' outdated Firearms Tracing System is in need of an upgrade. (Free registration required.)