The Intel. Community’s Approach to Cloud

Published: November 20, 2019

Cloud ComputingIntelligencePolicy and Legislation

The IC’s newest cloud strategic plan calls for heightened investment and capabilities.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released the Strategic Plan to Advance Cloud Computing in the Intelligence Community in June 2019, outlining an expansion in cloud capabilities across the IC enterprise. Described as more detailed than a strategy, yet short of an implementation plan, the document seeks to “guide IT development and acquisition; modify or establish IC policy, guidance, and specifications; and provide a consensus-driven approach to advancing cloud computing in the IC.”

Cloud use in the IC has seen systematic growth in the past several years. In 2014, the CIA stood up the Commercial Cloud Services (C2S) environment through Amazon across the IC enterprise, while the NSA has managed IC’s government-designed cloud, IC-GovCloud. Since then, C2S has successfully secured the IC’s Top Secret data, while providing instances for Secret and Unclassified data in recent years. The IC-GovCloud has also proven to provide the speed and scalability to store and process the IC’s massive big data collection.

Moving forward, the CIA announced plans to invest billions of dollars into the follow up of C2S, the Commercial Cloud Enterprise (C2E). C2E will provide a multi-cloud environment, capable of handling data at all security levels, compute functions at the edge, and provide worldwide delivery options.  The latest cloud strategy plan for the IC mirrors these future goals, providing the path to achieve such capabilities.

The strategic plan lays out seven interconnected objectives, each with a subset of initiatives (38 total) to achieve the future state of cloud in the IC:

  1. Develop and implement a set of resilient, global cloud capabilities across multiple fabrics to enable core and edge users’ critical missions across the IC.
  2. Adopt best practices and modular design methods that reduce barriers to entry and accelerate collaboration to allow users the flexibility to rapidly leverage commercial innovation across the cloud ecosystem.
  3. Implement compatible architectures, standards, and common frameworks within the cloud ecosystem to enable seamless system functionality, capabilities, mission success, and promotion of interoperability regardless of technology platform.
  4. Identify, automate, and implement common (inheritable) security controls to enable rapid re-use of best solutions, accelerate available capabilities for mission, and foster shared insights across the IC.
  5. Develop common technical standards and enable usage of data regardless of location, service, or technology platform to promote workload portability within and across multiple fabrics, and achieve delivery of the right data to the right people at the right time in the right form.
  6. Streamline the IC procurement processes, develop procurement mechanisms, and implement consumption-based funding and acquisition models to keep pace with the rapidly changing technologies, leverage cloud flexibility, and ensure delivery of new capabilities at the speed of mission.
  7. Invest in Community training, development opportunities, and marketing strategies to provide the necessary knowledge and shared understanding that fosters a culture shift toward cloud technologies.

When implemented, the strategic plan will ultimately provide the cloud capabilities across IC users with disconnected or edge computing operations, leading to “innovative and contemporary technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and high-performance computing to meet current and future needs.”

Contractor Implications

The IC’s cloud strategic plan calls for secure, interoperable and accessible cloud computing capabilities and promotes investment in multiple cloud vendors for enhanced services. Complimentary to this, Deltek’s recent report, Federal Cloud Computing Market, 2019-2024, forecasts the IC cloud market with a 7.2% CAGR in the next five years, citing the IC’s strong cloud baseline and position to expand additional cloud capabilities. Moreover, the IC’s cloud strategic plan directs the IC to streamline its procurement processing and acquisition models, paving the way for Intel. agencies to keep up with the pace of technology.

Look for more in Deltek’s Intel Community' IT Landscape, 2019-2024 report, which provides detailed analysis on the IC’s technology priorities and initiatives.

Get a free report summary of Intel Community' IT Landscape, 2019-2024