The Pentagon Accelerates Move to Cloud Computing

Flickr user Michael Baird

The proof is in the participation: The Defense Department’s latest cloud security guidelines received 800-plus public comments, the vast majority of them from industry players and cloud providers.

The Defense Department is accelerating toward wide-scale cloud computing adoption, buoyed by the promises of cost savings and untold increases in mission capabilities.

However, the largest potential consumer of cloud computing services in the U.S. government has also been the most deliberate in ensuring the security of every bit of data that moves to the cloud.

Indeed, security has been a point of friction between industry -- commercial cloud service providers that want access to billions of dollars’ worth of business -- and DOD brass who believe their data necessitates special requirements.

After DOD began exploring cloud in earnest three years ago, a familiar information technology song-and-dance played out: The Pentagon or its IT arm, the Defense Information Systems Agency, would release strategy memorandums or standards, which industry would strive to adhere to -- and then DOD’s strategy would change.

DOD’s most recent changes in cloud strategy and DISA’s latest security requirement update, though, indicate DOD’s cautious approach has laid enough groundwork for industry to get in the game.

The proof is in the participation: The release of the Pentagon’s latest cloud security guidelines generated 800-plus public comments, the vast majority of them from industry players and cloud providers, according to DOD Acting Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen.

Not coincidentally, Halvorsen made that announcement Thursday at DOD’s cloud industry day before a standing-room-only audience in Washington, D.C.

Halvorsen noted ongoing commercial cloud pilots with some of DOD's most sensitive, unclassified information and touted DOD’s simplified approach to security standardization.

“If we have public-facing data,” he said, citing an example, “why wouldn’t we put it in a public cloud?”

Not There Yet

Increased dialogue with industry is encouraging, Halvorsen said, but DOD’s cloud policies will continue to evolve, much like the technology itself.

“As we put the cloud document out, the hard part – and I know this from all the interactions with industry – is that you’re all wanting a base,” Halvorsen said. “That’s not going to happen.”

An unchanging baseline made up of certain security standards would fail to keep pace with emerging cyber threats. Some requirements may be grandfathered in “where security is not a concern,” Halvorsen said. Still, standards are destined to continually change.

Other challenges also persist. Halvorsen said data sharing between cloud service providers will need to improve. Issues surrounding of liability of DOD data and the political ramifications if it is breached through the cloud also need to be worked out.

There are technical and procedural guidelines, too, that will continue to evolve. During industry-day panels that followed Halvorsen's remarks, much was made of cloud access points – the means by which commercial cloud providers will connect to DOD networks. However, Amazon Web Services remains the only commercial cloud vendor using a cloud access point.

Questions too remain about cloud’s true return on investment and its potential impact on the workforce.

Cloud will allow for automation that will force DOD to repurpose some of its workforce.

“Today’s guidance is not quite right,” Halvorsen said.

And tomorrow’s guidance will be different, but it seems DOD, after a long journey, finally has a framework in place that puts it on the cusp of testing cloud’s potential.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.