DOD developing in-house cloud provisioning system

The Defense Digital Service is building a tool to automate the complex back-end business processes that accompany commercial cloud services.

The Department of Defense hopes to have a militarywide commercial cloud contract in place by September.   And to make sure defense agencies can take full advantage of it, work is already underway on a provisioning system that will automate much of the back-end complexity that comes with government cloud deployments.

At the March 7 industry day event to discuss DOD's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud acquisition, Lt. Col. Kaight Meyers, the JEDI program manager, said the "self-service automated provisioning tool" would be a key enabler for the "rapid access and adoption" that DOD wants for commercial cloud services.

"Through this tool the department will be able to manage a lot of the back-end business processes and implementations of appropriate security policies in an automated fashion, rather than manually," Meyers said.  

"The tool will have built-in controls and oversight for security, billing and usage," she added, "and will be designed to maximize security, ease of use, and develop common standards to take full advantage of cloud services."

The goal is "to have a minimum viable product by JEDI award," Meyers said, because DOD views the provisioning system as "critical to enabling users to focus their resources on their primary mission."

The tool is being developed in-house by the Defense Digital Service.  Tim Van Name, DDS' deputy director, told reporters after the event that DOD officials have "talked at length about what is required to lower the bar to adoption of these incredible commercial capabilities."  Back-end business processes emerged as an obvious place to start.

The provisioning tool will "allow us to manage the billing services in the way the department must in accordance with law," Van Name said.  "And then when services are provisioned, to assist with the configuration … in accordance with the appropriate security [controls] to manage the department’s risk."

Exactly what cloud services will need to be configured, however, will not be known until DOD settles on a winning proposal for the JEDI contract.   But Van Name said DDS developers are pushing ahead "on a sort of provider-agnostic framework."

"We’re really focused on integrating with the department’s systems," he said. "And then once the contract is awarded, that last mile will be completed, and [the provisioning system] will be hooked with the winning proposal."

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