Intelligence networks go for Google

Intelligence networks go for Google

Intelink Management Office director John Brantley

The Intelink Management Office, which oversees top-secret, secret and sensitive but unclassified intranets for the CIA and other intelligence organizations, has adopted the Google Search Appliance from Google of Mountain View, Calif.

IMO director John Brantley said during an interview this morning at CIA headquarters in McLean, Va., that the office has purchased two Google Search Appliances, one for its secret networks and one for its top-secret networks.

IMO provides centralized services for several intelligence networks, including e-mail directories and network connections, Web-crawling services, security oversight and collaboration applications. Brantley reports to Alan Wade, CIO for the intelligence community and also the CIA's CIO. The deputy director for central intelligence for community management oversees and provides funding for IMO; that deputy director position is currently vacant.

"This joint venture allows our organization to be supported by all the support structure of the agency, but the funds remain protected for community use only, not redirected for any internal CIA items," Brantley said.

The devices use proprietary algorithms running on a Linux PC platform, a Google spokesman said. IMO this summer paid an amount in the 'high six figures' for each of the two devices, Brantley said.

IMO officials are 'putting the devices through our security accreditation,' Brantley said. 'If everything goes well, we will be able to place them in the operational phase in about a month. We have a number of search engines. We have been using AltaVista for a long time.' Overture Services Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif. , operates the AltaVista service.

Brantley praised the Google system highly, saying, 'If you go on the Internet today, you use Google. It does date- and time-stamping of the information source, so the most recent [items] will come to the top of the stack.'

He added, 'It also uses some interesting proprietary algorithms to get more valuable information'AltaVista might return 60,000 items.'

Google makes three models of the appliance. The basic unit uses one PC, and the larger units have either five or eight PCs linked by a load-balancing device. Google supplied IMO with high-end models under a custom contract, a CIA spokeswoman said. She said Google normally sells the devices as part of a service, but the IMO could not work under that method because its networks are classified.

A Google spokesman said the company also has provided the appliances to the Army, the Energy Department and other agencies that he declined to name.

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