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U.S. military and CIA adopting the latest trends in big data

By Max Burkhalter
August 7, 2014

The United States military and Central Intelligence Agency have special access to several tiers of innovative technology. However, the size and hierarchical nature of these programs creates barriers for widespread implementation. Likewise, the sensitive nature of military and intelligence agencies makes them hesitant to adopt new technology pertaining to information storage. It is notable when military and intelligence agencies adopt popular tech solutions as their successes and failures provide vital learning opportunities for the industry as a whole.

Army upgrades with converged infrastructure
The big data problems faced by the Army's Program Executive Office for Aviation in 2012 are common to data centers across the private sector, according to GCN. PEO Aviation had recently introduced a virtual desktop infrastructure pilot, but their data storage was quickly approaching capacity. The military office pursued several solutions but ended up implementing Nutanix converge storage blocks. Tech experts at the Army were intrigued by the convenience of storage and server tools operating from the same device.

The Program Executive Office for Aviation saw instant results after implementing the converged storage solution. PEO Aviation had originally sought to develop a more traditional architecture, and its Nutanix clocks ended up utilizing only 10 percent of a full rack. This benefit is especially relevant to organizations developing their own data centers as GCN reports eighty percent of virtualization projects are eventually limited by rack space.

Amazon launches CIA's secret cloud
Amazon won the bid to develop the CIA's massive cloud project in early 2013. This decision prompted protest from IBM and resulted in a months-long legal battle. IBM was eventually defeated in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

IBM's struggle for the contract reflects both the scope of the CIA's data management needs and potential industry ripple effects that are caused when one company secures a massive government contract. CIA Chief Information Officer Douglas Wolfe referred to the deal as "one of the most important technology procurements in recent history," according to The Atlantic.

The Central Intelligence Agency is confident that the Amazon-built cloud will be as secure or more secure than previous storage infrastructures. Cloud storage boasts a security advantage over traditional hardware by hosting fewer access points. Data will be secured across the cloud by assigning information to unique admin permissions. The system will likely support remote access as well to serve the needs of the intelligence community. This accessibility may be facilitated through the use of remote control servers but details about the specifics are being kept secret by Amazon.

Perle's wide range of 1 to 48 port Perle Console Servers provide data center managers and network administrators with secure remote management of any device with a serial console port. Plus, they are the only truly fault tolerant Console Servers on the market with the advanced security functionality needed to easily perform secure remote data center management and out-of-band management of IT assets from anywhere in the world.


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