TechWeb

Military Plans Multi-Exabyte Storage Cloud

Apr 08, 2013 (12:04 PM EDT)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=240152481


New York's 32-Story Data 'Fortress'
New York's 32-Story Data 'Fortress'
(click image for slideshow)
The Defense Information Systems Agency plans to award a $45 million cloud computing contract for an intelligence and surveillance information storage cloud that could eventually require four exabytes of storage, according to a procurement document posted online.

The document, a sole source justification, says that DISA will award the contract to systems integrator Alliance Technology Group, which claims expertise in federal government private cloud computing and has done business with NASA and the Navy, among other federal agencies. According to the document, Alliance will provide DISA's Enterprise Services arm, which provides IT services to the rest of the military, with "state-of-the-art global storage capabilities."

Such storage capabilities would allow the agency to securely store "hundreds of billions of objects" in a way that users could access the data across multiple networks. Data being stored in the cloud would include standard and high-definition video, LIDAR images, infrared and electro-optical images and Wide-Area Motion Imagery.

[ Cloud storage has a lot of benefits. But what about security? Read Army Falls Short In Mobile Security, Says DOD. ]

Many of the details of the contract have been redacted, but storage will come in 10 Pbyte units tied together via an IP network and hosted in a secure data center facility. The service will support "interface standards for ingesting, accessing and managing geospatial data" and the data will be searchable and accessible on mobile devices.

While federal agencies and intelligence agencies in particular are working to deal with a deluge of data, exabyte volumes remain relatively unheard-of. The largest stores of data are still largely measured in the tens of petabytes. However, the need for exabyte storage is far from out of the question. In a call with reporters last week, National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins said that the Obama administration's new brain mapping effort may require the processing of information in the yottabyte range, which would be a million exabytes.

Information blacked out in the DISA procurement document include the location of the data center, part of the description of the need for a data storage cloud, the name of Alliance's service, the names of a number of government officials involved in the contract and what appear to be references to specific agencies.

While DISA already operates its own data centers, the agency says in the procurement document that DISA's Defense Enterprise Computing Centers don't have the necessary capacity and that DISA doesn't have the necessary funding to deliver homegrown versions of the capabilities that the agency needs.

On a website providing an overview of Alliance's cloud services, the company says that it can meet FedRAMP requirements and other security requirements and adds that its private cloud services offer numerous features and benefits, including reduced costs, audited data centers, and the ability to map capacity to demand.