Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Monday, November 20, 2017
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CSRA Emerges as U.S. IT Powerhouse 

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A well connected IT services provider formed through the merger of established government contractors is steadily extending its reach from providing cloud services the U.S. military to training the next wave of cyber security specialists.

CSRA Inc., Falls Church, Va., was spun off from long-time federal contractor CSC (formerly Computer Science Corp.) in 2015 and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CSRA). Since then, it has attracted a high-profile group of former government officials to its board of directors. They include: Michele Fourney, a former senior Defense Department official; ex-National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander, who now heads the startup IronNet Cybersecurity; and former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe.

Those connections have paid off for the startup as it quickly expands its presence in the government IT market while looking farther afield to the enterprise sector.

For example, the Defense Information Systems Agency awarded a CSRA subsidiary a $498 million contract in June under a program called milCloud 2.0. "We are now positioned as the industry leader for cloud and military IT," company CEO Larry Prior asserted in announcing the contract that calls for providing DoD with a private cloud infrastructure.

CSRA's strategy involves leveraging private sector IT tools through partnerships with cloud, storage, database and other service providers. That approach reflects growing efforts within the U.S. government such as the Pentagon and U.S. spy agencies to make greater use of commercial IT platforms and services.

Earlier this week, CSRA announced it would proceed with field-testing of a U.S. Navy human resources management system running as an instance on the Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN) U.S. East Coast platform. The trial includes testing security protocols such as authentication steps used to oversee user access to the Navy's HR and pay system.

CSRA noted it is the first company to conduct the cloud tests for the Navy.

As it emerges as a certified cloud supplier to the U.S. military, the company also is expanding its cyber training efforts beyond the federal government. On Friday (Aug. 25), CSRA announced a partnership with the IT industry trade association CompTIA in a move designed to fill the skills gap for cyber security. The trade group estimates there are currently about 300,000 job openings for cyber specialists in the U.S.

The partnership certifies CSRA's Cyber Institute as a provider of cyber training services to CompTIA members. The institute currently provides cyber training for government and enterprise customers covering systems and network defense. Its largest customer is the Defense Cyber Investigations Training Academy.

The IT trade association offers a "bootcamp-style" course that certifies security and IT workers under a DoD information assurance program.

Another member of CSRA's board of directors is Sanju Bansal, who founded data warehousing and business intelligence specialist MicroStrategy Inc. (NASDAQ: MSTR).

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 25 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as Executive Editor for Electronic Engineering Times.

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