Australia’s security agencies have banded together and are planning to stand up a private community cloud at the top secret security domain capable of serving around 10,000 users.
The Office of National Intelligence (ONI) went looking for one or more cloud providers on Friday to deploy a cloud platform on behalf of the National Intelligence Community (NIC).
It comes more than three years after a review of the country’s security agencies called for the “establishment of an intelligence community computing environment”.
Until now, the NIC has had access to public cloud services up to the protected security domain, as well as traditional IT environments at the secret and top secret classifications.
The NIC consists of 10 agencies, including the Home Affairs, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Australian Signals Directorate and Australian Federal Police.
The top secret cloud – which is expected to provide IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services – will allow the NIC to rapidly develop tools and systems, including for data analysis.
The tools, combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning, will serve as a “force multiplier”, allowing the NCI’s “limited cleared workforce to focus on mission activities”.
“Data is the foundation of the intelligence lifecycle. The volume of data the NIC processes continues to grow in both size and complexity,” the ONI said in an expression of interest.
“The NIC is seeking solutions that will assist in accelerating its ability to scale the processing and analysis of large datasets.”
ONI is also looking to use the cloud to stand up collborative environments for shared and joint mission workloads to improve interoperability.
The cloud is expected to be hosted in “Australian controlled spaces, be geographically dispersed, have strong fault tolerance and be accessible from within Australia and abroad”.
It will also need to be “disconnected from the internet”, use cross domain solutions to transfer data where appropriate, and allow third-parties to operate SaaS services.
“Consuming SaaS services is the highest priority across the NIC and is predicted to provide the most benefit and efficiencies of all the service types,” EOI documents state.
“SaaS services should not be limited to only cloud provider offerings but also include the ability for third-party vendors to operate their services.”
Around 10,000 users from across the NCI are expected to eventually use the cloud, which appears separate to a private cloud platform that ASIO went looking for last year.
The platform – which is expected to operate across the protected, secret and top security domains, and support greenfields systems – is part of a broader IT transformation.