Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Pentagon Awards Huge Cloud Contract 

(Source: Shutterstock/ Imilian)

Few federal agencies have more stringent security requirements for cloud deployment than the Defense Department, which has been fighting an uphill battle to move more sensitive workloads to the cloud. The Pentagon signaled this month it is ready to launch a new offensive with the award of a huge U.S. military cloud contract potentially worth half-a-billion dollars.

Under an initiative called milCloud 2.0, commercial contractor CSRA Inc. will deploy and operate a government cloud in Defense Department datacenters under a contract awarded by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). The three-year base contract runs through June 2020, with five one-year options. The company predicted the Pentagon cloud contract could be worth as much as $498 million.

The DISA contract calls for the vendor based in Falls Church, Va., to provide private cloud infrastructure based on earlier certification under a government cloud initiative called FedRAMP.

Among the goals of the first phase of milCloud 2.0 are deploying infrastructure services so DOD agencies can run a range of "highly-protected workloads," the company said.

Pentagon brass overseeing the cloud transition have said they plan to deploy a mix of more secure private clouds to be managed by suppliers such as CSRA along with federal hybrid clouds hosted in commercial datacenters.

Among the requirements of a military cloud is deploying secure IT infrastructure that can partition sensitive and classified data, delivering it in near real-time to those cleared to see it.

CSRA (NYSE:CSRA) is a pure-play government IT vendor formed through the merger of Computer Science Corp.'s North American public sector unit and government contractor SRA International. The merged company went public in 2015. Strategic partners include Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN), which provides cloud infrastructure to the U.S. intelligence community, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Oracle (NYSE: ORCL).

The initial phase of the deal will expand DOD use of commercial cloud, storage and database platforms. "The Department of Defense is ready to take the next step in its IT transformation," CSRA President and CEO Larry Prior asserted in a statement announcing the cloud contract award.

DISA describes milCloud 2.0 as an integrated suite of capabilities designed to accelerate development and deployment of secure military applications. Those data-driven applications increasingly include the ability to deliver real-time intelligence, including video, along with other high bandwidth applications.

The cloud effort is part of an overarching DISA effort called Joint Information Environment designed to deploy shared IT infrastructure with a commercial-like hosting capability built on one security architecture.

The agency said the milCloud initiative "supports the DOD’s overall datacenter consolidation effort by providing the capabilities to shift legacy applications to cloud service providers."

The effort also underscores how large government agencies are gradually adopting enterprise IT practices. For example, milCloud would seeks to leverage cloud scaling while reducing infrastructure costs by consolidating virtual desktops and other IT platforms into its secure Defense Enterprise

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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