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GCN : October 2013
10 GCN OCTOBER 2013 • GCN.COM the past 12 months, or only for the region in which he or she was deployed, said Col. Charles Wells, DCGS-A's project manager. The cloud takes away those limitations. "You might have been missing a piece of the puzzle before. Maybe there was a piece of intelligence that was out of your sector in Af- ghanistan or that happened three years ago and you just didn't go back that far," Wells said. "Cloud eliminates those traditional boundaries, and you are just able to look at everything with a very powerful tool." In the first years of Operation Enduring Freedom, before DCGS-A was deployed, sol- diers had to jockey back and forth among 13 stand-alone, program-of-record systems to get intelligence that units could act on, ac- cording to Army officials. And today, the rapid evolution of intel- ligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in Afghanistan produces a stag- gering amount of data. Even after DCGS-A program was fielded, it was not unusual for the system to take a few minutes to produce the data soldiers were after. The Army deployed DSC in Afghanistan in spring 2011. The hardware and software, housed at Bagram Air Base in northeastern Afghanistan, had to be able to meet three metrics: consume 10 gigabytes of raw data per hour, possess a total storage capacity of 10 terabytes and process queries in an aver- age of 1.3 seconds. BY WILLIAM WELSH The Army's 1st Armored Division needed to locate and secure the release of a kid- napped contractor in Afghanistan. The 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team wanted to find and dispose of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) around an Afghan village. And C Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry, sought to connect IED planters killed in ac- tion with high-level Taliban members. In each of these cases, soldiers turned to the Army's cornerstone tactical intelligence network known as the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) for valu- able intelligence data and tools. Using DC- GS-A, they were able to, respectively, negoti- ate the kidnapped contractor's release, take out dozens of IEDs and remove high-level Taliban members who posed a threat to U.S. forces in Afghanistan's combat environment. Although the initial elements of DCGS- A were deployed in Afghanistan in 2006, it was five years later that the Army made the system dramatically more robust by adding a cloud computing capability. That capability, known as DCGS-A Standard Cloud, or DSC, ramped up the network's processing power, allowing storage of every written intelli- gence report filed by U.S. forces in Afghani- stan since Operation Enduring Freedom be- gan in 2001. Traditional tactical intelligence systems might have given a soldier data for only Cloud's clear view of battle eld intell The Army's DSC, the first tactical deployed cloud, gives soldiers in Afghanistan full access to intell and Google-like response to queries "Cloud eliminates traditional boundaries, and you are just able to look at everything with a very powerful tool." --- COL. CHARLES WELLS, DCGS-A PROJECT MANAGER PROJECT AT A GLANCE PROJECT: Distributed Common Ground System- Army Standard Cloud (DSC) OFFICE/DIVISION/TEAM: Project Manager, DCGS-A TECHNOLOGY: Open- source infrastructure and software, including Hadoop, Accumulo, Condor, SolrCloud and TIMEFRAME: DCS was implemented in 2011 BY THE NUMBERS: 75 million intell records 600 source feeds 1.032 TB hard drive storage 13.92 TB of RAM 1.3 seconds average response time