INSA Report: Cloud Computing for the Intelligence Community

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) released its newest white paper, “Cloud Computing: Risks, Benefits, and Mission Enhancement for the Intelligence Community,” in conjunction with an event held at the National Press Club.

The paper provides observations and outlines a framework regarding how the IC can best capitalize on this evolving technology and promising business process.

Written by INSA Cyber Council’s Cloud Computing Task Force, the paper provides critical analysis of current cloud computing adoption best practices, and discusses potential cost savings, likely impacts on government organizational culture, potential deployment models and necessary security measures.

Ellen McCarthy, President of INSA noted, “Use of cloud computing within the IC is enhancing agencies’ mission success through improved collaboration and IT efficiency. This is an exciting development for the IC and very promising, but organizations need to understand the full ramifications of accepting this new business model and the impact it will have on information sharing. Cost savings may ultimately be realized, but should not be the primary driver of adopting this business model – it’s about mission enhancement.”

INSA Cyber Council Chair Terry Roberts added, “Now that the commercial sector has created and operationalized the cloud environment, we must discuss how the Intelligence Community can optimally leverage the benefits of these technologies and enterprise architectures while mitigating the risk. The cloud environment is not a silver bullet. It’s not like purchasing a single new technology or a stealth fighter jet that instantly allows you to achieve your priority mission objectives. It is much more complex than that. But the logic train and key steps outlined in this paper are foundational to the IC’s successful implementation – a solid point of departure.”

INSA’s white paper covers the issues associated with implementing cloud computing models and looks to galvanize further discussion and identification of additional best practices and standards around the technology.

To gather insight and understanding about the current cloud computing environment within the IC, the INSA Cloud Computing Task Force conducted more than 50 interviews with government and industry leaders. Key conclusions presented in the white paper include:

• Cloud computing is not simply the consolidation and virtualization of software and systems, but a complete change in an organization’s business model.

• Migration to a cloud model should be primarily focused on improving mission accomplishment.

• The type of cloud deployment depends on the security protection needed for the data involved.

• The benefits of cloud computing are related to long term cost avoidance and support to the mission, rather than immediate cost reduction.

Cloud Computing Task Force Chair and principal author Bob Gourley further commented, “If cloud computing business model approaches and technologies are successfully implemented and managed, the Intelligence Community’s efficiency and effectiveness in big data processing, correlation, analytics, and access will be revolutionized. However, before adopting a cloud architecture, organizations must fully articulate and assess how this technological approach will enable their organization’s mission capabilities, cost effectiveness, and the security of their classified data and intelligence.”

This white paper is the third in a series of cyber related papers released within the past year by the INSA Cyber Council. These papers, in combination with additional research due out later this year, present a comprehensive look into the exciting challenges and innovations for the Intelligence Community as it continues “living and working” in the new cyber environment.

The white paper is being released today in conjunction with the Government Executive and INSA panel discussion, “Advancing the Intelligence Community: Harnessing the Power of Cloud Computing,” at the National Press Club.

Panelists include Jim Heath, Senior Science Advisor to the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA); Terry Roberts, INSA Cyber Council Chair and Executive Director for Interagency Acquisition and Cyber, Carnegie Mellon SEI; and Bob Gourley, INSA Cloud Task Force Chair and Founder & CTO, Crucial Point, LLC. The event will be moderated by Government Executive Editor at Large Tim Clark.

Download a copy of INSA’s “Cloud Computing: Risks, Benefits, and Mission Enhancement for the Intelligence Community” white paper here:

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