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IC ITE Moves Forward

First Round of Deployments for Common Intelligence Community IT Platform

By Kristin Quinn

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper first announced his plan to integrate the Intelligence Community’s information technology architecture at GEOINT 2011 in San Antonio. Since then, a series of projects have been underway to move toward a common IT platform for the community, known as the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE). On August 16, 2013, the IC ITE initiative reached its initial baseline milestone, with the limited deployment of a common Intelligence Community desktop, the launch of the first installment of the Intelligence Community cloud, and the opening of a community-wide applications mall.

The main goals of IC ITE are to provide effectiveness, security, and efficiency for the community, said Al Tarasiuk, the Intelligence Community’s chief information officer, during a press briefing Sept. 9. While many intelligence agencies had already begun to invest in new IT technology, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is overseeing the “harmonization” of these platforms, Tarasiuk said.

“[IC ITE is] not this gigantic program that has a billion milestones, and IOC and FOC hard-set dates,” Tarasiuk said. “It really is a series of projects that the agencies are already executing that we are re-vectoring slightly to achieve this commonality across the community.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the initiative is managing the wide-scale change, he added, including shifting the business model to a service-based provider structure in which one or two agencies is responsible for governing each of the four major components of IC ITE: the Intelligence Community desktop, the Intelligence Community cloud, the applications mall, and a network requirement and engineering service.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) are overseeing the development of the IC desktop, and the initial deployment to a few thousand users is taking place within the two agencies. Instead of every agency building its own software desktop like it does today, when the new desktop is fully scaled, it will be used by all agencies and include a common email system and collaboration services such as voice, video, and instant messaging.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) are leading the development of the IC cloud, which will be privately hosted within the Intelligence Community. The first installment of the IC cloud was made available to not just users on the new IC desktop, but those on legacy systems as well—meaning any intelligence agency personnel connected to TS/SCI networks can now access IC ITE capabilities. Tarasiuk described this process as “kicking the tires and testing things out,” allowing ODNI to evaluate how users will apply the new system to discover new information.

The NSA has also taken the lead on the IC-wide applications mall, which is based on the agency’s Ozone Widget Framework.

“This will begin to rationalize the number of apps across the community that might be redundant of may be needed,” Tarasiuk said. “They can be developed once and used by many.”

The final component of IC ITE is the network requirement and engineering service. The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is leading this portion, examining how to connect both local and wide area networks for the purpose of providing a more efficient model that improves effectiveness. 

Following this initial baseline milestone, IC ITE will continue to grow in increments of six months to a year. In 2014, the focus will be ensuring the resilience of the current infrastructure and making sure more production capabilities can be moved into it before scaling the number of desktops and the amount of data in the cloud, Tarasiuk said. He added that new services would also be applied, such as enterprise management and the establishment of a central service to monitor the end-to-end security of IC ITE.

While intelligence agencies are planning for the transition to IC ITE, Tarasiuk also encouraged industry to focus on the possibilities of the new platform. Although managing a common platform will require less labor and therefore a smaller industry footprint, he asked mission partners to help the community take advantage of the new capabilities.

“What does this new platform bring to the community besides a more efficient way of providing IT?” he said. “It brings together information data in a way that has not been possible in the past.”

Tarasiuk concluded that at the current pace, ODNI continues to anticipate a substantial number of users on the new IC desktop and the cloud infrastructure to be built out by 2018.