Army seeks microcloud management solutions

Army seeks microcloud management

The Defense Department’s new Silicon Valley satellite office is playing host to innovators who think they might be able to help the Army manage the microcloud systems that will be the foundation of that service's defensive cyberspace operations. 

The Army is expanding its distributed microcloud architecture, which is characterized by abstracted hardware suites that form a large, heterogeneous, dynamic resource pool.  These microclouds can be installed across Army garrison networks and tactical units, or they can be configured as deployable suites to support cyberspace response teams where garrison or tactical assets are not present. As the Army fields these networks, it must continue to provide networking connectivity, hardware and cloud virtualization as well as fight cyber threats.

Now the Army is looking for a way to manage the microcloud architecture so that it has large-scale dynamic visibility; granular control of network connectivity and resource allocation; and integrated management of commercial cloud assets, officials with the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) explained at a March 31 information session.

A new innovation challenge will focus on developing holistic solutions to support this cyberspace infrastructure because as the microclouds are deployed, the management of the increasingly vast resource pool will be difficult, the Army said in the challenge’s original announcement.  Solutions must also be congruent with basic military command structures, as cyber is now considered an operational domain of warfare, much like air, land and sea. 

In May 2015, a similar challenge resulted in the purchase of four transportable, high-performance microcloud computing systems, including two separate awards of $3 million and $1.5 million, DIUx officials said. Those capabilities have been delivered to the cyber protection teams that make up the Army's defensive force, said Jack Dillon, who leads the Advanced Concepts and Technology Directorate at Army Cyber Command.

The Army plans to award prototype contracts over the next three months. The goal is to use an "agile contracting vehicle that helps us...better move at the speed of the commercial sector," said Lt. Col. Ernie Bio, U.S. Cyber Command's lead for DIUX, in a call with reporters.

Previous challenges have sought to close cyber awareness gaps, and awarded contracts for next generation prototypes to inform specifications prior to fielding decisions.

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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