The Department of Defense (DoD) is thinking about how it can incorporate cloud computing into its high-performance compute capabilities and leverage the flexibility and scale of commercial cloud offerings, according to a request for information (RFI) released December 8 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

The RFI notes that while the Pentagon isn’t actively soliciting proposals yet, the department is conducting market research to pursue a cloud prototype for the High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP) within fiscal year 2021.

“HPCMP recognizes a convergence of forces that suggest the time is right to consider augmenting its on-premise ecosystem with an investment in commercial cloud-based infrastructure,” the RFI states.

HPCMP is focused on using cloud for unclassified operations, with a multi-cloud environment that meets all cybersecurity requirements, but is looking for a solution “with an achievable path to IL 6,” indicating the potential for classified workloads in the future. DoD is also looking to create a cross-platform interface that will allow users to access all computing resources and select between them.

An advantage of using cloud services is the scale of operations commercial cloud providers offer, even when compared to DoD.

“Commercial cloud vendors invest orders of magnitude more in the maintenance and update of their HEC infrastructures … because of the pace of investment, commercial cloud operators can potentially provide access to new computational architectures more rapidly than HPCMP,” the RFI notes.

While the RFI represents the first step towards integrating cloud into the HPCMP environment, DoD notes that plans are likely to include more cloud investments.

“HPCMP’s ambition is for the cloud to become a significant part of its ecosystem. HPCMP’s preferred hybrid model will require significant sophistication in terms of data storage and management,” the RFI states. “While the timing for completing this ecosystem expansion is not yet finalized, the pace of migration will be dependent upon operational technical and financial efficiencies.”

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Josh Mayo
Josh Mayo
Josh Mayo is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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