DISA to offer storage, Office apps via its private cloud

Two pilot projects, starting in a few months, will allow agency to study security issues

The Defense Information Systems Agency has launched a pilot program to test the delivery of data storage applications and Microsoft Office via its private cloud.

Speaking at the recent InformationWeek Government IT Leadership Forum, DISA Chief Information Officer Henry Sienkiewicz said the pilots, known as VOffice and VDrive, will start up in a few months and provide Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. The agency will also provide a Web-based document storage capability. Both the productivity applications and the file storage system will be hosted in DISA’s data centers and made available to users via the Defense Department's Non-secure IP Router Network.

Stressing that VOffice and VDrive are pilot efforts, Sienkiewicz said that they would allow DISA to examine and study security issues relating to productivity and storage services. The agency already operates its own private cloud for DOD customers -- the Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE), which lets users quickly tap computing power and build applications.

Launched in 2008, RACE is a self-service environment for defense developers, allowing them to access virtual servers and to safely test new applications. All the military services can access servers through RACE to support their applications. In addition to the pilot programs, DISA’s cloud already serves some of the military’s operational tools, such as convoy control systems, satellite controls and some smaller command and control systems.

Sienkiewicz said the applications that are best served by RACE are lighter ones that can run easily in a standard Microsoft Windows or Linux environment.

Although agencies have been making headway in cloud computing, federal CIOs such as Sienkiewicz continue to consider challenges such as data ownership problems and separating hype from reality.

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