Defence maps strategy for ‘Secret’ cloud services

James Riley
Editorial Director

The Department of Defence has unveiled details of a planned approach to market to transform its information technology operating environment to progressively establish diverse multi-vendor ‘Secret’ Cloud Services hosted in Australia.

Defence last week outlined a three-tranche acquisition plan for cloud services capable of handling data at the ‘Secret’ security classification, including infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms.

While Defence is managing the acquisition, the department is working with other agencies including Home Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who are also interested in the Secret Cloud Services platform.

The infrastructure would also be made available to other government agencies with requirements for managing data and collaborating with data at the Secret security classification.

Computer data centre
‘Secret’ cloud services

Defence said that as national security and emergency management risks continued to escalate, security, policy and intelligence agencies – as well as emergency services – needed the ability to collaborate effectively and efficiently at the ‘Secret’ level of security classification.

“This includes an increasing need for all levels of government and their partners to collect, receive, analyse and communicate information and intelligence at the SECRET security classification,” Defence noted in documents published to the AusTender website.

The Australian government currently operates across multiple Secret technology environments. Defence said that while there had been improvement in collaboration and coordination across government agencies, the effectiveness was hampered by siloed information systems and the use of disparate networks.

“The establishment of an Australian government pathway to ‘Secret’ cloud capabilities will enhance interagency collaboration, support critical decision making and uplift national infrastructure to a common operating structure that is better equipped to face increasing cyber threats, natural disasters and events with a national impact,” the documents said.

Tranche One calls for proposals to “rapidly establish a foundational ‘Secret ‘IaaS cloud service capable of hosting data and information at ‘Secret’ level and capable of scaling up and down to meet demand across geographically dispersed locations.

In the first tranche Defence also “seeks to securely ingest large payloads” such as imagery or audio files as well as high volume payloads “for the purpose of processing, analysing, and disseminating sensitive information to decision-makers.”

Defence says the foundational ‘Secret’ cloud should be leveraged from an existing cloud IaaS service or investment that is capable of being ‘uplifted’ and ready for accreditation to the ‘Secret’ within six months of signing the contract.

The initial tranche must “enable Defence to provide a minimum viable capability to support workloads and storage for a Defence imagery application and associated mission analytics system and be capable of expansion from a scalability, functionality and resilience perspective as part of future tranches of the program.”

The Defence department said the ‘Secret’ information technology environment was a critical enabler of current and future missions.

It says the ‘Secret’ cloud services would improve Defence’s ability to “respond flexibly to changing tactical and strategic requirements, rapidly adopt modern technology suites, deploy new capabilities into the field faster and leverage the scale and pace of change available from cloud services, while maintaining operational integrity and resilience.”

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