The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) receives notifications for about 800 million alarms a day while providing support for 146 mission partners, and Maj. Gen. Sarah Zabel, vice director, said the agency is trying to grant all 146 partners access to the commercial cloud.

“We’re running some of the oldest, ugliest, hairiest mainframe systems that you’ve ever seen and we’re pretty sure, talking to our mission partners, that we will be forever. That’s part of our legacy, but honestly, it’s too expensive to change it. We’re going to keep on doing that for a while,” Zabel said Tuesday at MeriTalk’s 2016 Cyber Security Brainstorm in Washington, D.C.

DISA still uses 11 brick-and-mortar facilities that provide cloud access for DISA and its partners. However, the agency has begun to migrate to the commercial cloud in addition to relying on these physical facilities. Zabel said that DISA wants to use the commercial cloud on a large scale in the future. One ongoing project involves integrating a commercial cloud that provides DISA partners with the opportunity to access their own applications and communicate with each other.

The new cloud access point within the agency is called the Secured Cloud Computing Architecture (SCCA). Zabel said DISA spends $36 billion a year on formation systems and that transition to the commercial cloud will save money. She said that, while DISA will never be able to completely rid itself of the brick-and-mortar facilities, application of the commercial cloud will streamline infrastructure.

In the future, she hopes that the Department of Defense (DOD) will take advantage of the more attractive prices offered by commercial providers while leveraging the need to protect sensitive defense information. By January, she said DISA’s goal is to bring even more cybersecurity capabilities to the cloud through SCCA.

“I would love to say that DOD is the most efficient organization. However, we are not,” Zabel said. “Commercial providers still do a much better job and have much more attractive pricing that we definitely want to take advantage of. We are the IT combat support agency.”


Also from the Brainstorm:

Cybersecurity Initiatives Will Continue to Next Administration

Fix FedRAMP or Congress Will, Connolly Tells GSA

Commerce CISO Says Playing Defense is Essential


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Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Big Data, FITARA, Homeland Security, Education, Workforce Issues, and Civilian Agencies.