I read recently some interesting articles on the use of cloud computing by US government agencies, specifically the US Navy.
Since October 2008 the US government – namely the DISA (Defence Information Systems Agency) has used IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) to deploy RACE (Rapid Access Computing Environment) http://www.disa.mil/race/
RACE provides 24-hour computing resource within a secure private cloud environment, as and when required by anyone with a US government credit card or a completed MIPR (Military Interdepartmental Purchase Request).
OK, so you may not think this in itself is a big deal. But the article, goes on to suggest that the US navy (through the Naval Network Warfare Command) are starting to look outside of their secure, confined, controlled infrastructure walls and potentially run certain computing requirements in both private and public clouds provided by third parties!
Every year annual tests called ‘Trident Warriors’ are conducted on various Navy IT projects. For example after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina various Navy personnel participated in a Trident Warrior exercise to test new web-based communications technologies; assessing their usability and value in a real-world environment. For further information on such test (http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=24281)
Trident Warrior exercises include stringent technological testing to ensure that the US Navy know exactly what works and what doesn’t work.
Recently the United States Department of Defense (DoD) conducted Trident Warrior tests on third party cloud computing provision supplied to the US Navy through the Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and S3 (Simple Storage Service). The Navy used the cloud to run several applications and tested ‘data-in-motion’ security. These first tests conclude that the use of third party, public and private cloud computing for global connectivity, server failover and application access for some applications is OK.
I’ll will be keeping a keen eye on the results of the second round of tests – due to be conducted in Trident Warrior ’10 and released this spring. It will be interesting to see if the adoption of third party provision of cloud is accelerated by any endorsement from what must be one of the most mission critical, security conscious users of computing in the world!