DISA Private Cloud Story

Michelle DeFiore

blog-200912-henry-sienkiewiczWent to a great talk today: “DOD & Cloud Computing. Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE) – A Case Study” conducted by Henry J. Sienkiewicz who is the Technical Program Director (and probably chief evangelist) of Computing Services in DISA. What does he evangelize?

DISA’s highly publicized and “cool” private cloud story.

ABOUT DISA Vision: Leaders enabling information dominance in defense of our Nation DISA provides – Network services including satellite networks, Program Executive offices and Computing Services (my aside – DISA sounds a lot like a service provider for the rest of the DoD)

We run data centers – Defense Enterprise Computing Centers (DECC). I’ve been quoted as saying that our data centers are more secure than Google’s.

DISA – some statistics

  • 4 million + users
  • 2900+ Computing Services team members
  • 14 facilities
  • 445K sq ft raised floor
  • 34 mainframes
  • 6,100 servers
  • 3.8K terabytes of storage
  • 2.8K application/database instances
  • 215 software vendors

We get no earmarked money from congress. We actually have ‘customers’ just like businesses.

DISA and Private Cloud Initiatives Definition of “Cloud” – up until recently, they were using the Gartner definition but here is the NIST definition:

A model for enabling convenient, on -demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

Why the DISA Private Cloud?

  • support faster app development/deployment
  • reduce development and operating costs
  • improve overall security posture*** (Note – this is just the opposite of one of the central fears when it comes to cloud computing)
    • no servers under desks
    • secure facilities
    • uniform application of security guidelines

When we looked at cloud computing, DOD leadership from the very highest levels bought into it from the beginning.

It’s probably intimidating but a very good sign when General Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, grills DISA about where they are and where they’re going with their private cloud initiative. DISA Cloud Services

  • Platform/Infrastructure-as-a-Service – Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE) and a Government Content Delivery Network
  • Applications-as-a-Service – Forge.mil (for software development; the government’s version of sourceforge. Plus, they are in the middle of putting up a CRM system for the Army – pure SaaS model.

Today, DISA is 30% virtualized in the production environment with an end goal of being 50% virtualized. What’s new when it comes to DISA’s private cloud initiative?

  • Acquisition model – Based on purchasing of services. Moved from capex to opex model. 6-8 month procurement cycle now down to 14 days, and even that may not be fast enough.
  • Business model – Based on pay for use (but also DISA needs to turn around and charge for services by usage). For the software vendors DISA uses, this meant a change to their traditional (and preferred) revenue recognition model (e.g., getting IBM Tivoli based on usage)
  • Access model – Over the network to ANY device.
  • Technical model – Scalable, elastic, dynamic, multi-tenant and sharable. Henry admitted this was a goal and DISA’s not quite there yet.

An interesting comment from the speaker: 3 of 4 of the major changes above are really more cultural than technical. DISA Cloud Success – RACE For new applications from development to deployment: Traditional approach took 18-24 months total time to production.

With the Cloud approach, it takes only 3-6 months total time to production: moving  from Procurement to Coding to Test and finally to Certification. In Oct 1 2008, DISA started with cloud-enabling “Development and Test” (feature/functionality examples):

  • 24 hour automated provisioning
  • month-to-month service, payable via credit card!
  • reduced cost
  • increase capacity in about 24 hours

Today – user self-service provisioning within the production environment and streamlined/automated accreditation By FY10 – Complete integration with DISA standardized configuration management system (BladeLogic) All this was done (and it’s a lot) but Henry had this to share: (RACE) adoption has not been as rapid as he would like it to be.

As he stated in other parts of the speech, moving to the cloud model is a major cultural shift; if he did this again, he would spend more time first getting buy-in from the application developers that this is the right model.

And finally, some tips and warnings from Henry for anyone looking at developing their own private cloud: “It’s a Journey” Challenges and Barriers (examples)

  • balancing security and usability
  • business processes
  • cultural inertia
  • controlling expectations

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