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How the NRO can leverage Cloud Computing

Last Thursday, May 22nd, I had the pleasure of attending an Intelligence Community Executive Forum hosted by Carahsoft. The topic of this forum was “”Innovative Technology for the Intelligence Enterprise”. The speakers and panelist focused on how the National Reconnaissance Office could leverage information technology in support of it’s advanced mission needs. Although neither cloud computing or netcentric warfare were on the agenda, both topics seemed to be central to where the agency is heading. Comments that peak my interest are below. This was an unclassified event so there are no secrets here (I hope).

Michele Weslander Quaid
Chief Technology Officer
Deputy Chief Information Officer
National Reconnaissance Office

  • The ODNI wants the community to transition from the “need to know” mentality to a “need to provide” way of thinking. In doing this the community must move from it’s mission silos towards web technology and into the netcentric world
  • The NRO is an information services enterprise with its deliverable being value added information.

Guljit Khurana
Centrifuge Systems

  • An event drive posture for information is now very important
  • Persistent and temporal information analysis are critical to success

Ron Flax
Solution Architect
Hewlett Packard Software

  • Industry is moving towards virtualization and automation
  • Process change is critically needed in the NRO in order to allow technology to work

Bob Lozano

  • In order to build applications that work naturally in a cloud computing environment, you need to virtualize the application through the use of fabric software
  • A different approach to solving bandwidth challenges is to move the application to where the data resides instead of moving large amounts of data to the application

Tim Stewart
Chief, IT Strategy and Technology Assessment
National Reconnaissance Office

  • In order to realize the full value of virtualization, one needs to develop a real architecture. Government is not good at this which leaves the job for industry to complete.

S. K. Vinod
Co-founder and Headquarters Advocate
Xsigo Systems

  • Input/Output virtualization is an important but under use aspect of modern IT infrastructures

Lt. Col Kirk Jester
Chief of Information Assurance (IA) Architecture and Governance
National Reconnaissance Office

  • The NRO has 20-year-old systems
  • There are no real good IT architectures
  • The NRO is going back to the basics
  • The organization has lost track of it’s network endpoints and has trouble defining the perimeter

Lewis Shepherd
Chief Technology Officer
Microsoft Institute for Advanced Technology in Governments

  • There are 30,000 security holes in XP. Vista addresses that problem
  • Vista is a trustworthy operating system, developed with the NSA
  • The user experience is impinged by the extra security in Vista, but that is by design
  • Vista is a platform for an entire end-to-end trusted stack
  • Internet Explorer introduces security problems in the world of “mash-ups” because the browser is a multi-user system with multiple untrusted domains
  • Microsoft is a “big time” provider of cloud services. It is also working on intelligence agency clouds
  • There are approximately 500 million installations of the Microsoft operating system worldwide. When there is an operating system anomaly, these systems provide about 600,000 kernal reports a day. This forms the basis of a global early warning system for hackers and malware attacks
  • Netcentricity needs a similar low-level warning system
  • Microsoft cloud computing services will be built around MashupOS technology
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