VMware Selected as Virtualization Partner for the National Security Agency’s Secure Workstation Solution
Federal Agency Contracts with General Dynamics to Develop High Assurance Platform Workstations Using VMware Software to Enable Secure Access to Varying Levels of Classified Materials
PALO ALTO, Calif., August 29, 2007 — VMware, Inc. (NYSE: VMW), the global leader in software for industry-standard virtualized desktops and servers, today announced an agreement with General Dynamics C4 Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), to develop a complete turn-key High-Assurance Platform (HAP) workstation using VMware software for a contract with the National Security Agency (NSA).
Chartered by the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense, the NSA contracted General Dynamics C4 Systems to design a secure workstation. General Dynamics chose VMware's industry-leading virtualization software so that HAP-mandated users employed by the U.S. Department of Defense, the intelligence community and other government agencies can access information requiring different security clearance levels from a single physical machine.
Since the passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, Federal security policy mandates that access to government network assets requires security features and certified assurance that exceed commercial-grade enterprise security standards. Currently, users with multiple security clearances such as members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Homeland Security personnel must use separate physical workstations, called creating an "air gap," to access information in each security clearance level in order to uphold the government's security standards. This creates expensive and logistically cumbersome IT environments.
VMware software allows users to run the equivalent of physically isolated machines with separate levels of security clearance on the same workstation. Through the joint HAP project, government agencies would be able to purchase an end-to-end secure workstation solution developed by General Dynamics that pre-integrates VMware software and provides secure access to multiple clearance levels in accordance with government regulations.
Agencies purchasing the HAP workstations stand to realize a number of other benefits in addition to enabling secure access to multiple clearance levels. The HAP workstations are designed to provide Tactical Armed Forces units a reduction in size, weight and power requirements for their mobile field environments while being able to share assured information across communities of interest, ensuring troops in the field receive the information they need when they need it.
United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is partnering with the NSA to adopt an early release of this innovative solution for testing in an operational environment. This solution is designed to provide a capability that is not readily available to the warfighter today. USSOCOM intends to utilize this capability to protect sensitive data and streamline the sharing of that data in operational environments.
The HAP workstations are designed to provide multiple Department of Defense and intelligence agencies and programs, in addition to the various field commands, a significant reduction in user workstation footprints and associated lifecycle costs, providing an immediate decrease in network administration and hardware infrastructure costs while ensuring proper information sharing is effective, safe and secure.
"Being selected as the virtualization provider for this solution reaffirms VMware's commitment to providing the industry with highly secure and reliable virtualization software," said Aileen Black, Vice President of Federal Sales at VMware. "VMware virtualization software provides security and isolation to simplify IT operations in areas as wide-ranging as enterprise desktop management, application lifecycle management and system infrastructure management. Our efforts with General Dynamics and the NSA will allow government agencies with the most stringent security requirements to benefit from the broad efficiencies and flexibility afforded through virtualization."
"NSA has a strong interest in leveraging innovative commercial technologies to provide a secure workstation environment for the government community. The NSA HAP program is interested in developing the next generation of standards and technologies that will be the foundation of secure platforms that allow access to different classified domains and the ability to securely share data between different classified enclaves," said Dr. Prescott B. Winter, former Director of the NSA/CSS Commercial Solutions Center (NCSC) and now the Chief Technology Officer at the NSA. "We look forward to the delivery of a secure workstation product designed to be an effective solution for any government agency subject to strict security mandates."
This partnership builds upon a relationship dating back to 2000 when VMware and the NSA began working on a joint development initiative to enhance and certify the security of VMware software. The project resulted in a solution dubbed NetTop, a predecessor to the HAP solution based on VMware Workstation software that allows simultaneous access to Top Secret and Secret information on the same platform when that platform is placed in low-risk environments. (See http://www.vmware.com/company/news/releases/nsa_pr.html for the January 2001 press release on this news.)
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