The Treasury’s ‘Blueprint’ for Intelligence Community Cloud Modernization

The Treasury Department tapped the Technology Modernization Fund for the first time to finance its ongoing transition to a hybrid cloud solution.

Employees will finally have the compute power to access terabytes of data from their desktops and experience a significant reduction in latency when the Treasury Foreign Intelligence Network cloud modernization project is complete.

Treasury uses the 17-year-old TFIN to analyze overseas threats to the U.S. economy and finances, assess the impact of foreign sanctions and share that classified information with other agencies. TFIN suffers from service disruptions, which affect about 800 national security users, typically during power outages and security mitigations. The transition to hybrid cloud will alleviate this issue.

“We really see cloud as a way to fuel our end-user business experience in a really positive way,” says Todd Conklin, deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection at Treasury.

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The Three Phases of TFIN Cloud Modernization

Treasury’s cloud modernization project started three years ago when it began using the Amazon Web Services cloud for Big Data analytics on classified data. But the department’s IT arm has historically been underfunded, an issue the Biden administration has begun rectifying by spending hundreds of millions of dollars bolstering cybersecurity, according to a Treasury official.

With the $11.1 million the TMF awarded Treasury, of which $2.2 million has been spent, the department can continue its work moving national security assets to the cloud to empower analytics.

Microsoft will begin managing critical applications, such as email and communications.

“In the long run, it’s going to really change how we operate in the national security space,” Conklin says.

For the first time, Microsoft Azure scalability will enable AWS analytics to cross-reference unique Treasury data sets with open-source commercial data. Treasury is the first national security agency to try Microsoft’s expanded offerings, including cloud email productivity software, which the intelligence community recently procured.

The third and final phase of the project will see Treasury adopt a Software as a Service virtual desktop solution.


Starting with a Small IT Ecosystem

Treasury has a financial sector risk management responsibility, which is why it issued a cloud report in February detailing the benefits of moving to a hybrid, multicloud environment and identifying gaps in its own adoption strategy, the Treasury official says.

The department launched a series of workstreams with other regulatory agencies, financial sector CEOs and cloud service providers in its role as Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee lead.

The TFIN cloud modernization project wouldn’t be possible without the support of Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves, according to the Treasury official.

Migration to Microsoft Azure should finish by the end of 2024, at which point the sunsetting of legacy assets will lead to cost savings that will be used to repay the TMF.

“It’s really going to be the blueprint for how other agencies adopt Microsoft Office 365 for the NatSec space, because we are the first one going through that process with them,” Conklin says. “The benefit is, we have a pretty small ecosystem, compared with some of the bigger intel agencies, so it does make a lot of sense to start with us.”