What is a Container?


Instead of jumping right into talking about the Containers as a Service program, it makes sense to start with some background information.  In relation to web servers and cloud, what is a container?  Containers allow users to run an application and all its dependencies in isolated processes, resulting in code packages that have everything the app needs to run its software reliably in any environment. The packages also allow for easy movement of applications from one environment to another.  Think of it like an application suitcase, with wheels.  


Why Do We Need Containers?


By using containers you will gain increased flexibility, agility, and ability to keep pace with modern technology. In today’s landscape, consisting of ever evolving technology advancements and capabilities, there is a critical need for mission partners to make operational adjustments rapidly. To keep pace with near peer adversaries, increase the probability of mission success, and leverage mission critical data, mission partners must be able to seamlessly leverage emerging technologies from the home front to the tactical edge.
 
One current challenge for many mission partners is portability, or in this case, the ability to lift and shift their applications from one environment to another. The need to move applications include the ability to access relevant, decision-driving data from various locations or to move applications to an upgraded environment that may provide additional support, capabilities, cost saving advantages, etc. Whatever the reason, currently, it is difficult for mission partners to move applications and their dependencies when needed.
 
The movement of software and applications from one computing environment to another is a challenge because there are often incompatibilities across proprietary environments. Easy application lift and shifts are extremely difficult due to application dependencies that are hard to locate, limited hardware space to hold applications, and potential conflicts between programs running on the same computer.

 

What is the Containers as a Service Project?


DISA, through its Hosting and Compute Center (HaCC) will deliver containers with a number of benefits, including more capabilities, automation, and self-service. Below are some mission partner-driven benefits that DISA provides through its containers offering:

  • Portability- The application and all dependencies are bundled in a container, allowing mission partners to easily move applications from one environment to another.
  • Direct support- Mission partners have direct access to points of contacts within DISA’s HaCC to partner with and develop container applications, help with portability, accreditation, and other requirements. This allows mission partners to primarily focus their resources on application development.
  • Faster access- Currently, it is difficult for mission partners to access container platforms. DISA’s containers enable direct pathways for mission partners to access platforms.
  • Faster start-up times- Containers are smaller (megabytes, instead of gigabytes), allowing a single operating system kernel to start up in a few seconds (vs the minutes required to start-up a virtual machine). 

 

Costs


Costs are currently under evaluation. In partnership with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO), DISA will establish a transparent, best value rate for mission partners that offers an "a la carte" approach to varying levels of services.

Timeline - Key Milestones

  • Q2 FY22 - Completed
    • Established containers hosting platform pilot
    • Installed and configured Hardware for MVP
    • Develop containers orchestration tool
    • Tie containers platform pilot into existing application centric infrastructure (ACI)
  • Q2 FY22 - Completed
    • Containerize and complete end to end testing
    • Develop and deploy DISA owned web server application 
    • Submit ATO 
    • Integration with CI/CD pipeline
  • Q3 FY22 - In Progress
    • Operationalize CaaS hosting platform
    • Incorporate IPv6 capability
    • Optimize CI/CD pipeline
    • ATO acceptance
    • Define Windows/Database container requirements
  • Q4 FY22 - Upcoming
    • Integrate Windows/Database container capability
    • Finalize CaaS Operationalizing
    • Ordering Portal