During last month's Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Partnership Conference, cloud computing debuted as a "top priority" for senior leadership. Speakers described a future state when users would access computing time from DISA’s "cloud" to run applications without requiring access to a traditional server. John Garing, DISA CIO, said that the Government is looking to only pay for usage. Cloud computing and virtualization were identified as growing business segments and have quickly been adopted by DISA leadership as a service to DoD customers. Led by DISA’s Computing Services unit this new service will provide military users a faster, cheaper source to run applications in an on-demand environment. Called the Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE) this "cloud" will give warfighters the ability to configure, order and access a server on the network in less than 24 hours.
While I applaud DISA on their rapid adoption of the cloud concept, I am very concerned about their apparent implemetation path. Unless I'm reading this wrong, DISA is focused on deploying a quicker, easier and less expensive model for providing warfigher access to server hardware and storage. If so, I believe they are missing a very key point. Cloud computing is about providing quick, easy and less expensive access to information. To accomplish this, DISA must also provide web services and the means to effectively consume the information provided by those services.
What makes the Google and Amazon clouds worthwhile is their ability to manipulate information. Server hardware and storage aren't even in the discussion.
Read more about DISA's plans in the INPUT article 2008 DISA Partnership Conference - Spotlight on DISA’s Strategic Vision and the Resulting Programs