The Coast Guard hand selected its solution for an Integrated Data Environment (IDE) (analyst desires be damned). Fast forward, and the Coast Guard’s Data Readiness Task Force (DRTF) awarded a contract to Enlighten IT Consulting, LLC (a BDP has not been implemented by any other company) to implement a Coast Guard Big Data Platform (BDP).
I am not a Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber and Information Technology (C5I) officer. But from a couple tours as a Naval Engineer in the Coast Guard (Engineering Officer in Training – USCGC VIGOROUS 2013-2015 & Port Engineer – Medium Endurance Cutter Product Line 2015-2018) I have an above average amount of experience working with Coast Guard Contracting Officers (KOs) and acting on contracts. As it turned out, this was exactly what the Coast Guard needed with respect to the DRTF’s chartered milestone: “Compete contract for the Coast Guard Integrated Data Environment.”
The truth is, contracting in the Federal Government is nothing particularly special. It is work. But for all documents there are typically templates and examples. And if, as a Government customer, you are able to approach a KO with money, your requirements and an initial take at the documents they will require for action, then you are an above average customer (at least, from what I have seen in the Coast Guard). So, after working collaboratively with KOs to award the Coast Guard’s BDP contract, what really became interesting were the ensuing efforts to bring an IDE as a BDP to fruition on CGONE NIPRnet.
Awarding the Software-as-a-Service Contract for a Coast Guard Big Data Platform
On September 9th, 2021 the Coast Guard entered an Assisted Acquisition with the U.S. Air Force Cryptologic and Cyber Systems Division to award a contract to stand-up and sustain/maintain a Coast Guard instance of a BDP, with the Base Period of Performance to begin on September 15th, 2021. Initially, the Coast Guard planned aggressively to achieve Authority to Operate with Conditions (ATO-C) on or before November 1st, 2021. The ATO-C was achieved on November 5th, 2021. However, while the focused effort towards this goal was ongoing, the initial plans for the Coast Guard BDP were shuffled causing significant delays to progress in the future.
A Big Data Platform within the Coast Guard’s Secure Cloud Computing Architecture
Originally, the Coast Guard’s planned to stand-up the BDP within AWS GovCloud compute/storage through the Contractor account, later wrapping the BDP environment within the Coast Guard’s Secure Cloud Computing Architecture (SCCA). However, the decision was made to pivot from the original thoughts/vision while still in pursuit of ATO-C. The Coast Guard already had an AWS GovCloud account for an existing Coast Guard “intelligence” IDE. Thus, the pivot was to bring the BDP environment within the Coast Guard SCCA by having the BDP environment be a tenant within the AWS GovCloud account of the existing operational Coast Guard IDE’s AWS GovCloud compute/storage space. Among many other things, all these actions were a first for the Coast Guard, its Information Technology (IT) policy and its IT infrastructure.
Onboarding a Big Data Platform as a Tenant
Once it was decided the BDP would be brought under the Coast Guard SCCA by being a tenant of the existing AWS GovCloud account hosting the “intelligence” IDE, the Coast Guard’s next unanswered question was how exactly should this be accomplished? The existing AWS GovCloud account clearly had a mind for expansion of its AWS GovCloud compute/storage space because conversations regarding Risk Management Framework (RMF) guidelines ensued. However, the decisions on RMF guidelines were not finalized, and starting in October, these discussions delayed the BDP migration to the Coast Guard SCCA through the end of the Holiday Season and into the new year.
Network Traffic within the Coast Guard’s Secure Cloud Computing Architecture
Upon moving the Coast Guard’s BDP onto CGONE NIPRnet the BDP environment could no longer be reached by users or administrators through either the front-end or back-end. It was apparent a firewall was blocking access as users/administrators attempted to access the server. This issue resulted in CGONE administrators and infrastructure architects rebuilding the AWS GovCloud Cloud Access Point (CAP) to CGONE NIPRnet. It resulted in an additional month delay before the Coast Guard’s instance of a BDP was finally available within the Coast Guard’s NIPRnet on January, 28th, 2022.