recommended reading

Cloud will change intelligence community's business model

Cloud computing has the power to not only change the way the federal intelligence community manages information technology, but also to fundamentally change agencies' business models, according to a report released Tuesday.

That change will be effective, however, only if intelligence agencies are prepared to modify their own organizational cultures to match the new technology and to learn from similar transitions in the corporate and civilian government spheres, the report from the nonprofit Intelligence and National Security Alliance said.

Most important, the report noted, successfully moving to cloud infrastructure will require shifting the acquisition cycle to enable the Defense Department and intelligence agencies to launch programs in one or two years rather than five years or more.

At its most basic level, the transition to cloud storage and computing means the intelligence community is better able to parse new troves of open source and signals information such as social media posts and cellphone transmissions, experts said during a panel discussion on the report sponsored by INSA and by Nextgov's editorial partner Government Executive magazine.

"Because of the explosion of technology around the world, there's a tremendous amount of insight we can gain into people and cultures that's not through classified sources," said Terry Roberts, executive director of the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute's Acquisition Support Program and a former deputy director of naval intelligence.

"So it's really about how do you effectively access all of that information and process that information and certify it and blend it with classified sources," she said. "Ten years ago that [open source information] might have been, maybe, 10 percent. Now, I think it's reaching more than 50 percent of the key information that we need to be analyzing and understanding."

Cloud computing also allows users to rapidly expand and contract the amount of computing they use for a particular project, which is a good fit for the process of sifting through open source Web data, much of which involves separating out a little bit of intelligence or a hidden pattern from a huge amount of noise.

On another level, the shift to cloud means intelligence that once was collected agency by agency and the intelligence community historically strived to share more easily can now be stored in shared clouds and accessed across agencies based on credentials, the experts said.

"Now the [National Security Agency] is leading a lot of these cloud substantiations on behalf of the entire intelligence community . . . that's the beauty of this opportunity," Roberts said.

The INSA report described this shift as moving from an "infrastructure-centric" to a "data-centric" business model.

Cloud computing is "not a panacea," said Bob Gourley, founder of Crucial Point, a technology research firm, and an author of the INSA report, echoing a statement by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

"For example," the report noted, "when an application uses an entire physical machine or is sized to use multiple dedicated physical machines, then it may not be a good candidate for moving to the cloud."

(Image via Jirsak/Shutterstock.com)

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.