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NSA to expand cloud capabilities

Mar. 25, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Facing limits on its relational data bases, NSA plans to expand its cloud presence.
Facing limits on its relational data bases, NSA plans to expand its cloud presence. (Army)

The intelligence community is expanding its use of cloud computing, as the National Security Agency and CIA adopt capabilities for secure storage, data and application hosting.

The effort is part of a five-year strategy to standardize network operations across the intelligence community, known as the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (ICITE).

“For us internally, we had a burning platform,” Lonny Anderson, NSA’s director of technology and chief information officer, said about migrating to the cloud.

Explaining the phrase, Anderson said that NSA’s relational databases were at capacity, and efforts to build on extra storage weren’t meeting agency needs. Analysts were spending too much time on prep work to perform analysis, he said during a March 25 Federal News Radio webcast.

NSA adapted Google’s cloud offering to meet its internal needs and is standing up a government cloud for the IC, Anderson said. The government cloud will be a replica of NSA’s internal solution, which supports the agency’s storage and data analytic needs. The goal is to converge the separate internal and external capabilities and maintain a single cloud.

“Today we are flowing all data into both legacy repositories and the cloud,” Anderson said. Within the next year, NSA will start shutting off it’s legacy systems and moving analysts’ workloads to a cloud environment. “It’s cheaper at the end of the day,” he said.

NSA has also strengthened internal security practices, said Anderson, noting the agency is more secure than it had been in the past. He said personnel won’t have access to any and all NSA data in the cloud but will only see what is authorized for their specific role. The agency tracks what information is accessed, moved, printed and copied in the cloud.

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