Intel Community offers first glimpse of future IT tools, network

Tuesday - 9/10/2013, 9:00am EDT

Jason Miller reports.

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A few thousand intelligence community employees are seeing what their future technology tools and infrastructure look like.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence recently implemented a set of baseline capabilities under its Intelligence Community IT Enterprise (ICITE) program. Al Tarasiuk, the assistant DNI and intelligence community chief information officer, said Monday during a briefing with reporters in McLean, Va., the IC launched three capabilities under ICITE in mid-August.

"We declared the milestone, which we called the initial baseline, which involves the deployment of the first substantiation of the IC desktop to a few thousand Defense Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency users," he said. "They are the providers of the desktop. They are developing the single desktop to the community. They determined earlier on they would be first ones to deploy the new desktop tool. We also stood up the first substantiation of the IC cloud with both storage, data hosting and virtual hosting capabilities. The applications mall went online as well with a number of applications registered in the mall that folks across the community could use."

Tarasiuk said while the standardized desktop, which includes email and collaboration software, is available to only those few thousand users, the cloud infrastructure and the apps store are available to all IC employees with a top secret, sensitive compartmented information (TS-SCI) clearance.

Series of small projects

ICITE is not a big project, but actually several small ones with the goal of standardizing the IT infrastructure for all 17 intelligence agencies at the TS-SCI level.

ODNI launched this effort about 18 months ago by taking what some of the IC agencies already were doing in small pockets and expanding those initiatives across the entire intelligence community.

In addition to the three initial capabilities, Tarasiuk said the IC also implemented enterprise management services and a cybersecurity architecture.

He said the security policies and standards are key to making ICITE successful.

"What we will do in our IC cloud infrastructure, which will be provided by both CIA and NSA, is to implement those standards and then make sure those datasets have the right kind of tagging in there. So, in fact, data can be better protected than it might be today for all IC users to use," Tarasiuk said. "We plan to use some level of encryption depending on the sensitivity of the data. That's still being worked. So, administrators, which are a very important element here, will be properly segmented so they only have access to the information they need in order to do their jobs. There will be auditing and monitoring like we have today, but enterprisewide, and not agency specific."

Tarasiuk didn't mention the problems caused by the Edward Snowden leak directly, but the oversight, and enforcement of roles and responsibilities of systems administrators are a direct aftereffect.

At the same time, however, having agreed upon ICwide security standards will create trust among the agencies and ease concerns about information sharing and information protection just as well.

Long term, short term plans

ICITE is a long-term consolidation effort. Tarasiuk said the goal is to have the majority of the IC workers using all the assorted capabilities by 2018. Then, there will be a constant refresh and upgrade cycle like anything else.

In the meantime, Tarasiuk said there are short term goals for 2014 and beyond.

"In the coming year, one thing we will do is ensure the resilience of the current infrastructure substantiations to make sure we can move more production capabilities into it. Then we will scale beyond what we have right now. We will scale the number of desktops, the amount of data that's in the cloud," he said. "We will bring in new services as well. Enterprise management will begin to grow. Security monitoring, we intend to establish a central service to monitor end-to- end the security of ICITE. And at the same time, agencies are planning for their transitions to ICITE. We've had several iterations of their plans and now that we have real capabilities in place, we will begin to execute these transition plans."

DIA and NGA are taking a 60-day strategic pause with the standardized desktop implementation. Tarasiuk said the goal is to make sure they are heading in the right direction, capabilities are working and not messing with legacy systems and to figure out how best to expand the number of users.

That's part of how ODNI has become the systems integrator of the program instead of letting each of the lead IC agencies handle both the developer and system integrator roles. Tarasiuk said the decision to have his office, with the help of some contractors, run the integration of services, while the lead agencies handle the development side was one of the lessons learned after ICITE capabilities were delayed.