Defense IT

NGA extends pilot for commercial cloud services

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency recently issued an extension to a sole-source contract for work on their Unclassified Remote Hosted Desktop (URHD) pilot. Concurrent Technologies Corp. (CTC) was issued a three-month extension to complete work on the last two phases of the URHD project, which includes identity and access management, large data hosting and processing, and security monitoring.

The reason for the extension is due to changes in the initial contract by NGA and CTC’s certification under the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program. The period of performance was altered in such a way that CTC could not complete its goals under the previous period.

NGA’s current strategy for the URHD pilot was to “drive out and remedy policy concerns of the NGA, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and Department of Defense (DOD) for acquiring a commercial cloud solution. After the policy concerns are overcome, the URHD Pilot will provide a proof of concept for [unclassified] processing capability in the commercial cloud,” according to NGA. However, CTC was not capable of meeting these standards under the previous period of performance and the contract had to be altered. NGA noted that if it were to give this contract to a different company, the FedRAMP certification process would have to start from scratch.    

While no companies were interesting in this current bid anyway, NGA indicated that there is interest in the next, follow-on phase once CTC completes its work. CTC was forced to renew its FedRAMP certifications for the URHD and can now begin work to connect and process FOUO data. 

CTC has described URHD’s components as consisting of cloud-based application hosting, user definable virtual workspace, cloud-based desktop as a service and mobile cloud-any connected device, any location. Furthermore, CTC touted URHD’s “Cloud First” policy adherence, real-time security visibility through continuous monitoring, and scalability and elasticity of cloud computing as benefits of the program. 

NGA was interested in exploring the feasibility of the URHD pilot in 2011, describing it as “the use of a commercial cloud as an alternative to in-house solutions. The outcome of this pilot is to determine if the following benefits are achievable: flexible managed service capacity at a commodity price; free up one-third of data center floor space for other uses; flatten recapitalization spikes; provide efficiencies that will free up other IT resources for repurposing toward mission; and provide 24 x 7 access to voice, email, data and cloud applications via Personal Information Technology Devices (PITDs), Smart Phones, etc. NGA expects that the pilot will drive out policy concerns and solutions.”

NGA stated at the time in its 2011 solicitation that it was interesting in shifting IT provisions to better meet mission requirements due to budget restraints. More specifically, to cope with budget restraints, NGA envisioned a management service that “decreases complexity, increases agility, enhances reliability, while improving efficiency and effectiveness of IT delivery in support” of NGA. 

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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