A view of the Defense Intelligence Agency headquarters n the premises of Joint Base Anacostia–Bolling in Washington, D.C.

Intelligence Community to Shift to Multicloud Model

The IC is still happy with its current cloud configuration but will be evolving its cloud environment.

Five years into the U.S. intelligence community’s use of commercial cloud technologies, the IC plans to shift from a single-cloud to a multicloud model.

Details are scarce on what that will mean, but the shift was confirmed last month by John Sherman, CIO of the intelligence community, during the 2019 Cloud Smart Talks summit in Washington, D.C., as FedScoop reports. He said that the shift will allow intelligence agencies to make greater use of emerging technology capabilities, the publication notes.

The IC uses the CIA’s Commercial Cloud Services, or C2S, environment, a private on-premises cloud. According to FedScoop, which cited procurement documents, the new contract will again be procured by the CIA and could be worth several billions of dollars

The shift to a multicloud environment likely means that several cloud vendors, such as Microsoft and Oracle, could provide cloud services to the IC. In April, Microsoft indicated it was taking steps to host classified data in a commercial cloud.

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IC Does Not See Its Cloud Approach as Comparable to DOD

Just as other intelligence officials have, Sherman lauded the IC’s shift to the cloud, noting that the IC has found it is able to safely and securely store classified data in its private cloud. “Some of our most important data is hosting in the cloud,” he said.

Sherman noted that despite the fact that the IC plans to move to a multicloud environment, it is still happy with its current setup. 

“We have heard some speculation that our intention to move to a potential multi-cloud environment is somehow a repudiation of what we have done with C2S,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

The Defense Department expected to award its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract this summer to a single cloud provider, believed to be either AWS or Microsoft. Sherman said the IC’s shift to a multicloud model should not be seen as a rebuke to the DOD’s approach, noting that the Pentagon determined what was best for its own specific circumstances. 

“We don’t believe it is appropriate for C2E to be used as a yardstick for JEDI as DOD and the intelligence community are at different places in our prospective cloud modernization journeys,” Sherman said, according to FedScoop. 

The intelligence community needed to establish that it could host sensitive, mission-critical data in commercial cloud environment before it expanded to a multicloud model, Sherman said, according to Defense Systems

“[DOD] is where we were five years ago,” he said. “Starting with a single cloud is very analogous to where we started.”

MSGT KEN HAMMOND/Wikimedia Commons
Jul 09 2019

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