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

Software vulnerability

Google Discloses Another Unpatched Microsoft Bug

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

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

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

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