Tuesday, July 10, 2012

So, about that cloud ...

Ahhhh, technology. As a standard issue Apple geek who brought his personal Compaq computer to his command first back in 1991; I am guilty of leaning forward a bit too much now and then.

I also have a healthy respect for how fragile every part of our IT infrastructure is from hardware, to software, to communication links. The profession of arms requires robustness - that is the big challenge for keeping on the cutting edge as technology progresses. You can't let your tool become your Achilles heal.

In that light - I still like the concept of the cloud and the direction we started last summer, mostly because it reflects a project we worked on when I was getting my MBA back in the mid-90s (yes, even modern technology takes time);
Department of Navy forays into cloud computing appear to be gathering steam with the July 12 release of two requests for information, one for thin- or zero- client devices, the other for browser-based office and collaboration software.

The thin- or zero- client RFI specifically states that Navy Next Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN, will transition "to a cloud-based computing delivery model," adding that "the vast majority of the DON systems and computing capabilities fielded in the future must be able to operate in a cloud computing/shipboard virtualization environment."

The thin- or zero- client RFI classifies as a zero-client device an end user computer that the installer need not configure beyond the actions of connecting a keyboard, mouse and monitor, that would require no driver updates to support peripherals, that, should updates be required, would be capable of installing them without impacting end-user operations and without the intervention of personnel.
The Navy has sketched out data center and cloud computing plans for a multibillion dollar, next-generation network it's building for both naval forces and the Marine Corps.

The Navy aims to reduce its non-tactical IT budget by 25% through the deployment of the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN), and to do that will consolidate the more than 80 data centers it currently has and move on-premises software to the cloud, according to two separate requests for information (RFIs) posted on FedBizOpps.gov.
To leverage cloud computing, the Navy plans to assess all of its applications and, for its NGEN plans, will continue only to maintain, use, and procure those that can be hosted in in the cloud, according to the RFI.

The current raft of in-house applications for command and control, legal, administrative, and other functions that the Navy uses have a very high total ownership costs (TOCs), and do not fit into the reduced costs the military expects to achieve with NGEN, the Navy said.
This summer, we're still moving in that direction.
The Naval Air Warfare Center - Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) has awarded Smartronix Telecommunication and Related Communications-Electronic (C-E) Systems (TARCES) task order, under the SeaPort-e contract, in support of the Special Communications Requirements Division (SCRD) at Webster Field in St. Inigoes, Maryland. The task order has a three-year period of performance and is valued at more than $114 million, with all options exercised.

Under this task order, Smartronix, and a strong subcontractor team, will provide support services for the implementation (from concept through deployment) of telecommunication and related C-E systems to enable efficient information exchange of voice, video, and data. SCRD, as the Lead Systems Integrator for all TARCES deliverables, will call on Smartronix for a variety of services, to include research, design, engineering, development, analysis, prototyping, fabrication, integration, installation, test and evaluation, training, and logistics support of telecommunication and related C-E systems, subsystems, and components.
Smartronix is a global professional solutions provider specializing in Mission-Focused Engineering, NetOps, Cyber Security, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Software Solutions, and Health IT.
One man's asset is another man's target.

The geek part of me, along with seeing bandwidth & processor speed enabling what we researched in the mid-90s, makes me like the whole concept .... but it also makes my red-hat itch.

Here is why;
Storm-related outages at an Amazon data center in Ashburn prompted some congressional officials on Monday to question whether the federal government is moving too swiftly to put important data on private-sector cloud computing servers.

The outages affected companies such as Netflix and Pinterest, not the government. But several federal agencies have moved e-mail and other services to cloud servers, which are housed at remote data centers and typically managed by technology companies such as Amazon or Google.
Federal officials predict that the most sensitive information — from the White House or CIA, for example — may be moved eventually to cloud servers maintained by the government itself, allowing for maximum control and security.
“Cloud computing has an enormous upside when it comes to storing and accessing information,” she said. “But have we really thought through the downside posed by cyber- terrorists, hackers and even naturally occurring threats such as thunderstorms? I’m not so sure.”
"Cloud" sounds fancy - but it is actually buildings. Where are those buildings? How secure are those building from both cyber and physical attack? Where are their backups located?

Branches and Sequels please.

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