Military won't commit to single cloud computing architecture, say panelists

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The military doesn't want to to commit to any particular cloud computing architecture, said panelists during a May 11 panel at the AFCEA International 2011 Joint Warfighting Conference in Virginia Beach, Va.

"There are multiple standards, and they serve multiple purposes. I don't think it would be beneficial to DoD to limit itself to a selection of just one type of cloud technology," said Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Brendler, chief of staff of the Defense Information Systems Agency. For example, some architectures serve high speed computing applications better than others. A more capacity-oriented architecture based on a distributed file system--similar to Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud--probably wouldn't be a good fit for such a need, he added.

Col. Timothy Hill, director of the Futures Directorate within the Army Intelligence and Security Command, urged industry to take a more open-standards approach to cloud computing. "There are a lot of flavors of cloud," he said. Interoperability between clouds, as well as the portability of files from one cloud to another, has been a sticking point in general adoption of cloud computing.

Although the military will adopt private rather than public clouds, the Army still needs a "nonproprietary, open architecture that allows us to leverage the entire market," he added.

During the panel, retired Vice Adm. Nancy Brown also decried attempts to tackle the warfighting in the cyber domain in terms of warfighting in physical domains. "We have to start thinking about cyber as a completely different environment. You can't geographically divide it, you can't say that because this is in PACOM's AOR, that PACOM is the only one that has any control over it," she said.

Earlier during the conference, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle, deputy commander of Cyber Command, said that combatant commands could need restructuring away from geographic organization.

Brown also spoke on the notion of perimeter security since the .mil domain is still connected to the wider Internet.

"We have to figure out now how to build a perimeter, but how to break down the perimeters and yet operate securely," she added. She also called for security standards applicable to other Internet domains including .gov and .com

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