a central point for collection of information as it relates to cloud computing in the government
DOD and the Cloud
October 7, 2009 at 1:57 pm #82490
From DISA Press Release
DISA OFFERS DOD CLOUD COMPUTING WITH RACE
Arlington, Va. – The Defense Information Service Agency today announced the release of the next version of its Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE). Initially launched in October 2008, RACE initially allowed for the rapid delivery of Test & Development environments. This release allows DoD users the ability to self-service provision operating environments within the highly secured Defense Enterprise Computing Center’s (DECC) production environment. With its rapidly accessible and scalable computing infrastructure, RACE uses virtualization and the nearly unlimited capability of cloud computing to offer Defense Department customers platform/infrastructure as a service in test and production environments, the first of its kind for DoD.
“This is all about our customers,” said Henry J. Sienkiewicz, Technical Program Director, DISA Computing Services, adding, “RACE is a first for DoD – our users can now customize, purchase, and receive their test and development computing platform within 24 hours and the production environments within 72 hours, and that’s a must for worldwide missions with ever-changing computing requirements. Our goal is to allow software development to securely occur within the decision-making cycle. RACE and other DISA initiatives such as Forge.mil, Global Content Delivery Services, and the Net-centric Enterprise Service posture the Agency to support the ever evolving needs of the American warfighter.”
RACE’s quick-turn computing solution provides DoD customers with highly standardized computing platforms quickly, inexpensively and securely. With RACE allowing for provisioning within the production environment, customers get self-service provisioning with streamlined accreditation. They’ll get pre-established inherited IA controls as well as the ability to promote projects and programs from test to the production environment. SAN storage up to 1TB per RACE server is also now available, with additional storage from 10GB to 1TB in 10GB increments available. Customers need only a government credit card or completed MIPR to begin.
Further RACE details include:
* 24-hour provisioning
* Capacity on demand
* No capital investment required
* 365/24/7 service desk support
* DISA’s DECC standard platforms
* NIPR connectivity
* LAMP stack
* Choose MS Windows or Red Hat Linux operating environments
* Online self-service
* Month-to-month service
* No annual maintenance fees
* Pay only for what you need
* Test servers cost per month/image
* Developed under DoD IA standards
* 1-4 CPU, 1-8 GB memory, 60 GB of storage
* Application Development configured STIG’d operating environment
RACE continues to evolve. In FY10, DISA will deploy RACE on DoD’s classified network (SIPRNet), as well as completely integrate an accelerated accreditation processes. RACE will also complete integration with DISA’s standardized configuration management system (BladeLogic). For more details, visit http://www.disa.mil/race/.
DISA, a Combat Support Agency, engineers and provides command and control capabilities and enterprise infrastructure to continuously operate and assure a global net-centric enterprise in direct support to joint warfighters, National level leaders, and other mission and coalition partners across the full spectrum of operations. We are leaders enabling information dominance in defense of our Nation.
October 7, 2009 at 1:59 pm #82492
one of SEVERAL news stories, this one from Network World
Pentagon: Our cloud is better than Google's
U.S. military says its cloud computing platform is more secure, reliable than commercial offerings
By Carolyn Duffy Marsan , Network World , 10/05/2009
The U.S. Defense Department is offering cloud computing services that military officials claim are safer and more reliable than commercial providers such as Google.
At a press conference Monday, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) announced that it is allowing military users to run applications in production mode on its cloud computing platform, which is called RACE for Rapid Access Computing Environment.
Since its launch a year ago, RACE has been available for test and development of new applications, but not for operations.
Military officials say RACE is now ready to deliver cutting-edge applications to military personnel.
Henry Sienkiewicz, technical program director of DISA's computing services and RACE team, says RACE is more secure and stable than commercial cloud services. Google, for example, has suffered from frequent service outages including high-profile Gmail and Google News outages in September.
"We have service-level agreements with all of our services for all of our applications. We're using the same method of SLA inside the RACE environment as well as our regular computing environment. We achieve 99.999% availability at all times," Sienkiewicz says.
In contrast, Google claims 99.9% availability for Google Apps.
Sienkiewicz says DISA is applying "the same rigor in availability and performance of any of our other applications such as payroll, financial systems and logistics systems. It's the exact same rigor of delivery inside our RACE environment."
DISA also is applying the same information assurance process to its cloud-based applications as it applies to applications that run on traditional computing platforms.
DISA said it has figured out a way to streamline its security accreditation process, which now lasts 40 days on average instead of 80 days. DISA was able to reduce this timeframe because it has built information assurance controls into its RACE platform.
"We had to look at multi-tenancy and how do we allow that inside the department given the information assurance concerns," Sienkiewicz says. "You normally are able to rack and stack the applications [in a cloud environment.]. What we've built into this is application separation….The department has a policy that separates applications, databases and Web servers from each other. We've taken all those pieces into account."
For its cloud-based applications, DISA conducts a full SAS 70 audit. DISA also has a strict data cleansing process in case an application is removed from the RACE platform, and the virtual server and storage media need to be wiped.
"We can give the same amount of security and credibility to the marketplace with DISA's cloud offering as with any other computing service," Sienkiewicz says. "Security is one of the things we have to keep foremost…which is significantly different than some of our contemporaries [in cloud computing.]"
DISA has been operating RACE since Oct.1, 2008; since then, hundreds of military applications including command and control systems, convoy control systems, and satellite programs have been developed and tested on its user-provisioned virtual servers.
DISA says it has cut the acquisition time for a new server from six months to 24 hours with RACE.
"We've had a very good margin of success," Sienkiewicz says. "Our return on value is measured in a variety of ways. Are the users able to have a self-service portal? The answer to that is a resounding yes. Are they willing to have an extreme amount of standardization?...Are they willing to use government credit cards online with a portal? The answer is yes."
Now, DISA is offering these customers the option of using RACE to run the applications they've developed using the cloud-based platform. DISA's goal is to more rapidly deploy new applications to military personnel.
"Usually we make decisions better and faster than our adversaries," Sienkiewicz says. RACE "is one of those ways we're allowing software development to keep up."
DISA supports its cloud customers with VMware running on HP blade servers. Users can choose Microsoft Windows or Red Hat Linux operating environments, and they can configure their virtual servers with up to four CPUs, 8GB of memory and up to a terabyte of storage in 10G increments.
Test servers cost $500 per month, while productions servers cost $1,200 per month. The monthly fees include provisioning, 24/7 support, access to the military non-secure IP network and SLAs.
With RACE, military developers purchase virtual servers using a Web portal and a government-approved credit card. DISA guarantees a 24-hour turnaround for standing up a virtual server for the test environment and a 72-hour turnaround for the production environment.
DISA said it doesn't have any production-level customers for RACE yet because of the time it takes to get applications through its information assurance process, which involves manual review of software code.
"We're doing certification in 40 days…but we hope to get that down," Sienkiewicz says. "We're never going to completely automate that process."
Next up for DISA is making RACE available for applications that run on its secure IP backbone, which will be available in the first quarter of next year. DISA also hopes to add content delivery and enterprise resource planning tools to the RACE platform.
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