The intelligence community’s vision for standardizing network operations across its 17 member agencies is becoming a reality.
Last month, the IC rolled out initial capabilities for common desktop software, which will including standard email, collaboration tools and video conferencing for all IC employees; an IC cloud for secure storage, data and application hosting; and an applications mall that will be a central repository for agency-specific apps or those that can be reused within the IC.
“We achieved a pretty significant milestone,” IC chief information officer Al Tarasiuk told reporters Monday. Tarasiuk is spearheading the five-year IT strategy, called the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (ICITE).
Agencies had invested in IT separately but were heading on similar paths toward cloud technologies, thin clients, or hardware that connects users to applications running in a data center, and virtual desktop infrastructure, he said. “What we are doing in ICITE really is harmonizing those architectures.”
“The business model that we are trying to implement is what we call a service provider ... model, where we select one or multiple agencies to become providers of certain services,” he said.
The Defense Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency last month deployed the first iteration of the IC desktop, which today supports 2,000 DIA and NGA users. That service will be scaled to support the entire IC, providing standard email services and messaging and collaboration tools for employees to communicate across agencies.
The National Security Agency and CIA will provide cloud services. NSA stood up the first iteration of the IC cloud and launched the application mall.
Tarasiuk said agencies are planning their transitions to ICITE, and agency providers are ensuring new IT capabilities can support more users and better access to data. Today, accessing data across agencies is challenging because security standards are implemented differently.
“What we are trying to do from an infrastructure perspective is remove those technical roadblocks that prevent that kind of sharing from going on,” Tarasiuk said about moving data to the cloud. “This doesn’t mean that everyone has access to everything.”
Cloud technologies will adhere to existing IC security standards to protect data, he said. For example, systems administrators will only have access to information they need to do their jobs, and there will be automated monitoring similar to what is already in place at agencies.
As the IC consolidates and standardizes information technology, companies should expect their footprint to shrink, Tarasiuk said.
“It’s inevitable that we’re shrinking the amount of labor we will need to manage this infrastructure,” he said. “The goal of consolidation is to drive efficiencies.”
He suggested industry focus less on reduced contractor support and more on helping agencies adopt new IT capabilities.