Gov Forum: Defense Agency To Pilot Cloud Apps

The Defense Information Systems Agency plans to test the delivery of Microsoft Office, network storage from within its private cloud.

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The Defense Information Systems Agency, an arm of the Department of Defense that provides computing infrastructure and services to the military, is planning to pilot storage and office productivity apps as a service delivered over the agency's private cloud, DISA CIO Henry Sienkiewicz said at the InformationWeek Government IT Leadership Forum on Tuesday.

The pilots, currently called VOffice and VDrive, will be launched within "a couple of months" and deliver Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote as a service as well as a Web-accessible personal document store, all of which would be hosted within DISA's data centers and made available to users on the military's unclassified network.

Though Sienkiewicz said the pilots could eventually lead to procurements, he was quick to point out that at this point, they're simply pilots. "I want to be clear that this is not as if we are transitioning anyone to a Web-based application," he said. "We just want to see how this works. It's one way of saying, how do we use the cloud effectively."

For example, Sienkiewicz said, VOffice and VDrive would enable DISA to explore and analyze security issues implicated by productivity and storage services.

The pilots, which DISA had planned to announce at its flooded-out customer partnership conference in Nashville, Tenn., in May, are being done in concert with the DoD's office of the assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration, Sienkiewicz said.

Though Sienkiewicz did not say which version of Office the VOffice pilot will use, Microsoft gives customers the option of hosting Office 2010's Web apps in their own data centers.

DISA operates what's considered to be among the federal government's most advanced private cloud, the Rapid Access Computing Environment, which currently offers infrastructure-as-a-service.

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