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GCN : October 2013
GCN OCTOBER 2013 • GCN.COM 11 use it effectively." Because of the highly sensitive data stored in DCS, extremely high standards for physi- cal and virtual security were met, Wells said. The DCS node at Bagram is housed in a se- cure area on the compound separated from the rest of the base by a fence, and access is gained only with the proper I.D. badge. SECURITY STANDARDS Since DCS runs on the Defense Department's Secret IP Router Network (SIPRNet) and on the CENTRIXS International Security Assis- tance Force (CX-I), it had to pass not only penetration testing but also rigorous accred- itation before going live, meeting security requirements established by DOD, the Army Network Command and the combat theater, Wells said. "We had to meet all three of those security gates before we could plug into the feeder network," Wells said, adding that patches are diligently applied by an IT staff on duty around the clock. In its present state, DSC indexes and stores text and visual information on upwards of 75 million intelligence records from as many as 600 hundred source feeds, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, satellite imagery and ground sensors, Army officials said. The information is routinely used to plan route- clearing operations, track and engage prom- inent al-Qaida and Taliban operatives and conduct information warfare operations. By creating an intelligence cloud, the Army has been able to establish "a whole new generation of analytics" that it could not have created with the stand-alone systems of the past, said Gregory Wenzel, senior vice president for Booz Allen's Strategic Innova- tions Group. Booz Allen is the prime con- tractor to the Army's Intelligence and Infor- mation Warfare Directorate (I2WD), which serves as Army's in-house systems integrator for the government-owned, open architec- ture program. DSC is the first tactical cloud deployment the Defense Department has made in a war zone, Wells said. "This is the first time where [the military] took a cloud capability and sent it downrange into an environment like that where it ended up operational," he said. DSC functions through integrated cloud computing technology, a specialized data ingestion system and an open computing framework for hosting widgets known as the Ozone Widget Framework Synapse. The data ingestion system is capable of loading and indexing multiple data formats to the cloud at a rate that keeps pace with the flood of incoming data from the hundreds of source feeds. GOOD EXAMPLES DCGS-A drew heavily on the experience of the National Security Agency and other in- telligence agencies to design, build and de- ploy cloud technology in its standard cloud build out, Wells said. "We were able to take some of these initiatives from the three- letter agencies and actually deploy them to a tactical environment --- and they worked well in that environment," he said. DCGS-A also leveraged the experience and resources of the open-source community for the Ozone Widget Framework Synapse. "In order to be really effective in an open- source community you need to participate," Wells said. "We found that participation in the Forge.mil development community was really important to determine where cloud [technology] was headed and how we could The makings of an open-source cloud for the battle eld The Army's goals were to make querying through DCGS-A similar to searching on the Internet and also, in building the system's standard cloud enhancement, to give sol- diers an intuitive, iPad-like interface. "You can do some remarkable things with your iPad, and you don't have to go to a three-week course to learn to use it," Wells said. "It's the same analogy with cloud tech- nology and what we did with the DSC. We have an interface with widgets and icons where you can click on a widget, and it gives you a powerful tool that is an important piece of doing your job." Wells is adamant that the strength of DSC lies not in the technology, even though he acknowledges it is the best technology avail- able on the market today. "What's really key to DCGS-A is the data. It doesn't matter how great the tool is; if we don't have the data behind it, then it's re- ally meaningless," Wells said. "A lot of the power of the cloud is the data behind the answer." • The Distributed Common Ground System-Army Standard Cloud's infrastructure consists of 228 servers, more than 1,800 CPUs, 100 dual six-core processors operating at 2.80 GHz and 128 dual quad-core processors running at 2.93 GHz, according to the Army. The infrastructure requires 13.92 terabytes of RAM and 1.032 TB of hard drive storage. The Army, which served as the systems integrator for the project, owns not only open- framework platforms used on the project, but also a large portion of the software. For DSC, the Army tapped five key open- source technologies. DSC developers employed Hadoop Distrib- uted File System, an open-source version of Google File System, to give them fast and reli- able analysis of both structured and unstruc- tured data and to scale to the exabyte level. Hadoop Core parallelization infrastructure served as an open-source version of MapReduce to parallelize tasks across a large number of nodes. Accumulo gave developers a robust, high- performance data storage and retrieval system that let them store structured data at the pet- abyte level. Condor is an management infrastructure platform the developers chose for its high- throughput computing environment and elasticity. DSC's Internet-like search results capability was made possible by SolrCloud, a distributed index management capability capable of sup- porting high-speed searches. --- William Welsh