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IBM on Thursday said it has been awarded a contract to design a secure cloud-computing infrastructure for the U.S. Air Force.
The 10-month project will challenge IBM (NYSE: IBM) to introduce advanced cyber security and analytics technologies in the cloud that can support high-level defense and intelligence networks.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
If it succeeds, the implementation will provide IBM with an ideal case study to present to private sector companies that want to transition away from on-site applications but are still leery of the security risks associated with cloud computing.
IBM will be required to meet security standards established by the government's Information Assurance guidelines for all networks. The Air Force says its network manages the operations of nine major commands, almost 100 bases and 700,000 active military personnel worldwide.
"Our goal is to demonstrate how cloud computing can be a tool to enable our Air Force to manage, monitor and secure the information flowing through our network," Lt. Gen. William Lord, CIO and chief of warfighting integration of the Secretary of the Air Force, said in a statement.
Staffers at IBM Research will work with software architects, security experts and analytics experts as well as military personnel to develop the infrastructure, using sensors and detection devices that will monitor the safety and performance of the network in real time.
It will also feature autonomic computing to self-manage the network and enable virtual cloud services to be managed remotely. The goal is to build a system capable of "retuning" itself for optimal performance without human intervention.
IBM officials said customized, executive-level dashboards will be used to deliver up-to-the-second information on the health and status of the network and facilitate decision-making. This instant access to information, for example, would enable Air Force officials to automatically shift the prevention environment based on rules-based protocols in the event of a cyber attack or network anomalies.
Entering what many analysts are calling the decade of the cloud, IBM, HP, EMC, Google, Microsoft are all racing to form partnerships and build application-delivery platforms to service on-demand customers.
In December, Big Blue scored a huge contract with SK Telecom, South Korea's largest telecommunications provider, to build and operate the first private sector cloud-computing environment in Korea.
The company in October unveiled its Smart Business Storage Cloud, a private cloud-based storage and archiving application for enterprise customers.