cloud for the intelligence community

CIA maps out multivendor cloud for intelligence community

Six years after signing a contract with Amazon Web Services for an on-premise, commercial cloud-based infrastructure for top-secret workloads, the CIA is taking on a multivendor expansion of cloud services on behalf of the entire intelligence community.

The multibillion dollar IC Commercial Cloud Enterprise, or C2E, will be a two-phase procurement to acquire "foundational cloud services" from multiple vendors and then to obtain specialized software-as-a-service apps and cloud management capabilities.

This time the CIA is fully embracing the public cloud for all levels of information -- unclassified, secret and top secret designations. Cloud services must be available globally and support technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, distributed computing, mobile device platforms, high performance computing and cloud service automation.

The CIA also wants a marketplace capability for the use and billing of a “bring your own license” platform and software-as-a-service offerings. Cloud security offerings also are a priority.

The intelligence community's  multivendor cloud strategy aims "to increase access to innovation and reduce the disadvantages associated with using a single cloud service provider," the CIA stated in a market research survey.

The intelligence community CIO announced a multivendor plan last year, as part of the second "epoch" of the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise or ICITE program.

CIA's Directorate of Digital Innovation led a March 22 industry day and briefing for vendors interested in the program. According to program notes, the intelligence community is seeking established commercial cloud providers with worldwide delivery options and the ability to provide services at the "tactical edge" that minimize loss of service even in the absence of network communications.

Because it's going with multiple vendors, the CIA is stressing interoperability and the capability to transition data and applications off of provider infrastructure. Vendors picked to provide secret services must have their offerings cleared 180 days after a contract is finalized. At the TS/SCI level, vendors have 270 days to obtain clearance.

The program managers also want to hear from vendors on their ability to supply cloud services from inside government locations -- much as AWS does for CIA.

A request for information is expected to go out to vendors in April or May, with a draft request for proposals set for January 2020, after back-and-forth with industry. A final RFP is set for May 2020 and awards are expected no later than July 2021.

Nick Wakeman contributed to this article, which combines reporting from FCW and Washington Technology, sibling sites to GCN.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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