The C2S contract was a pathfinder of sorts for the Intelligence Community’s move to the cloud.
As the next iteration, called C2E, gets set up, the Defense Intelligence Agency already has its sights set on using the contract for everything from storage to edge computing.
Jack Gumtow, the DIA’s chief information officer, said the agency currently has about 40% to 45% of all applications in the cloud today and would like to increase that percentage.
“We don’t fully know all the details yet of the C2E and the various vendors’ capabilities, but there’s some things that we know about. For example, in C2S, transaction rates in storage is expensive. So if you have a high transaction rate going into that, it’s probably not the place you want to do that,” Gumtow said on Ask the CIO. “Oracle talks about how they are going to have no transaction rate in there. So you’re paying by the bite of storage that you use, which at face value seems a lot lower. If that’s the case, that kind of makes sense. If all the performance metrics are also met, I might want to put some more storage in the Oracle cloud because of the business rules. So that that’s the kind of thought process that’s going on now. How are we going to orchestrate this? Not only with the cloud, but also on-premise? We still have a hybrid environment. I don’t see anything in the short term that’s going to say that I’m going to get out of that.”
The CIA awarded C2E in November to five vendors: Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. The IC will use C2E to “acquire cloud computing services directly from commercial cloud service providers …” at all three security impact levels. The spy agency is looking for vendors to provide infrastructure-as-a-service capabilities as well as support services. Bloomberg Government estimates the C2E contract could be worth $10 billion over 10 years.
The new contract will replace and build on the success of the C2S program, which the CIA made a single award to AWS back in 2013, and was worth a reported $600 million over 10 years.
Gumtow, who announced on April 8 that he will retire on Aug. 31 from federal service after 34 years, said storage-as-a-service is one of the first capabilities he wants to look into when C2E is ready.
“If a program needs, for example, 100 gigs worth of data, but in reality they only use 10, and we’ve allocated 100, I’ve got 90 gigs that is just spinning and is never used. So we’re buying that much storage when I only need a percentage of that storage. I think storage-as-a-service will help change some of that,” he said.
Cloud to the edge
When it comes to the edge, DIA is leading the effort to build the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communication System (JWICS), a classified environment for the IC. Since 2019, DIA has been upgrading JWICS, including increasing its security posture and improving its architecture and design.
“We’re going to completely modernize that with three levels of effort. The first LoE is a technical refresh because it’s dated and a lot of the equipment is at the end of life. The second one is enhancing security. The third one is the modernization piece,” he said. “How does that architecture look? What’s the edge node? So how do I ensure that I have the appropriate transport communications to the sites that is redundant, that is resilient and self-healing, that has capacity to meet the demands that are necessary. How do I operate in a disconnected environment? Each of our combatant commands now are coming back to us saying, ‘We have a requirement to operate in a disconnected environment because of the nature of our work.’ That’s being considered into the overarching architecture that’s really associated with JWICS modernization. We are talking about communications and the architecture of the capabilities.”
He added that data transport and access to services at the edge is a major focus of the JWICS modernization program.
“We’ve spent the last year on customer centricity work, engaging with our customers, the combatant commands, the military services, the intelligence entities, about what they think they’re going to need in the next 5-to-10 years. We are formulating what those requirements are and giving them part ownership in where we’re going with this,” he said. “As we go into the DoD CAPE process for resourcing, it’s an inclusive package of moving forward knowing that the future environment is going to be this and we’re meeting those needs ahead all of that actually happening.”
He said DIA is working with ODNI and other IC organizations, as well as congressional committees, on its JWICS strategy.
Customer centricity is one of Gumtow’s four goals under its updated IT modernization strategy. The other goals include are delivering data to the point of need, optimizing DIA’s CIO core technology infrastructure and capabilities and ensuring the workforce has the right skillsets to be successful today and in the future.
“We’ve had for a number of years, what we call our senior account managers that are integrated with all of our centers, and then with each of the combatant commands. Their part is an integral part of that entity and they’re that liaison where they are part of staff meetings and talking to senior leaders and conveying what we can do,” Gumtow said. “Another part that we stood up is called the customer experience group. So they are bringing together personnel from wherever it may be, the combatant commands from another center, or even from within CIO, and having a discussion with them and say, ‘What is it that works? What doesn’t work? And how can we do better?’ We end up having a deeper understanding of the customer at the level the customer is addressing things.”
DIA has been making a significant investment in workforce training. Gumtow said his office spends more than $2 million a year on training because leaving the workforce behind will have long-term impacts on mission success.
“We have a program in place that we offer for free with Johns Hopkins University, a Master’s of science in systems engineering that they can go into. It will equip them with an advanced degree in understanding systems engineering concepts, anywhere from networking to systems architecture,” he said.