DISA digs into blockchain as a service

The Defense Information Systems Agency is considering adding blockchain as a service to its infrastructure platform.

The Defense Information Systems Agency is paying close attention to the cloud-based blockchain offerings introduced by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and IBM as it explores how to incorporate the technology into the infrastructure used by the Defense Department.

“We are looking at potentially offering something that would be secure, scalable and agile for the networks that our mission partners could create and manage on our infrastructure inside accredited DOD environments,” Sherri Sokol, innovation leader at DISA, told GCN. “It would really just be the platform, infrastructure resource management and monitoring, which are services that DISA already offers.”

DISA's Emerging Technologies (EM) Directorate is just starting discussions on how a blockchain as a service would work and has not committed to use any offering from any vendor. 

“This is very much emerging tech … and [we need] to look into the challenges within DISA and to figure out how we can leverage some of this technology to serve our agencies,” EM Directorate Chief Steve Wallace said.

DISA is learning how other agencies are working with the technology. Sokol said DISA partnered with the Bureau of Fiscal Service’s Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation to construct a blockchain prototype for asset management.

The EM Directorate also is keeping close track of HHS Accelerate program that the Department of Health and Human Services uses to streamline the acquisition process with blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence. In addition, the agency is keeping an eye on the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s work on the confidentiality, integrity, selective disclosure and anonymity aspects of different blockchain implementations as well as National Institute of Standards and Technology’s technical overviews of how the technology works and where it can be best applied.

“There is a lot of hype around blockchain, and as we go through each use case, we are working to determine if it truly has capability,” Wallace said. “We don’t want to go down the rabbit hole to force the use of a technology when perhaps it doesn’t apply.”

With more government agencies experimenting with blockchain, Wallace said he believes interest in the technology will peak this year.

“Like any of these technologies when they come out of the chute, you get a ton of hype around it, and folks are trying to stuff it into any problem that they can stuff it into,” Wallace said. “We’ve likely hit the peak of the hype and now … you are going to see the valuable capabilities of the technology.”

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