The Intracloud

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2008-10-01 Print this article Print

Although the use of clouds to enable social networks adds a coolness factor that helps fuel industry hype, clouds are no less beneficial at large enterprises and government agencies, which are building clouds for the use of their own employees.

The Department of Defense's Defense Information Systems Agency built RACE (Rapid Access Computing Environment), a cloud of computing resources for use by DOD personnel.

Alfred Rivera, director of computing services for DISA, said commercial clouds such as's EC2 inspired the DOD cloud, which was created with the help of Hewlett-Packard. RACE, which Rivera likens to the PAAS (platform as a service) model, can be used not only by support staff but also by combat forces and those responding to disasters.

"When Katrina hit, we had to send forces," Rivera said. "It would have been nice to have been able to provision an OS environment on the cloud where the first responders could have pulled the necessary data."

To use RACE, DOD "customers" swipe a card and pay by the month for an environment that can be provisioned within 24 hours. A customer can increase the capacity at any time; if it is unused, it will be turned off at the end of a month. A charge of $500 per month covers a VMware-based Windows or LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP) virtual environment.

Although a suite of applications will be available when RACE goes live in October, users can deploy their own applications in their cloud environment, Rivera said.

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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