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U.S. spy agencies adopt new IT approach

Patrick Thibodeau | March 10, 2014
The CIA's decision to use Amazon's cloud is part of a broader IT shake-up to make the spy business more efficient.

The DNI also wanted to improve information sharing and collaboration among analysts at various agencies. The data was too often "locked down" inside these agencies — in some cases, because of the technology in use, and in other instances, because of the data formats. That, too, had to change, said Tarasiuk.

"The only chance we have to protect information in this new age is to actually protect the data itself," said Tarasiuk. Agencies now have, for the first time, enterprise access and control capability on that data.

Security concerns about any move toward the cloud made some nervous, said Tarasiuk.

"We wanted to bring in an Internet-scale capability that was already in place, that was tested and proven," said Tarasiuk. "Not just because of the efficiencies it would bring, but also the innovation it would bring. We struggled to bring in innovation. We tried all different ways. We thought this would be a great way to do it."

After bids for cloud services were sought, Amazon was chosen for the job. But what it's building is separate from Amazon's existing commercial cloud operation; in this case, Amazon's cloud services for the agencies will run in a protected government facility.

But Amazon "is going to run this thing," said Tarasiuk.

As part of the deal with Amazon, "when they develop new services for the commercial market, we want those services to become available to us," he said, noting that the initial operating capability will be available in July.

Tarasiuk said the new approach is expected to improve the efficiency and the security of intelligence-gathering efforts. With common desktops and collaboration suites, they are able to connect thousands of employees "in a way they have never been connected before."


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