The FBI announced this month that it is seeking ideas and suggestions from the private sector about how to construct and implement large-scale cloud infrastructure. The agency's Criminal Justice Information Services Division- which manages the criminal background check system, crime statistics and fingerprint services- is hoping to transition its systems and databases to a cloud environment.

Experts say the move could help cut costs and make the agency's operations more efficient. According to industry expert Trey Hodgkins, the FBI could enhance its mission by transferring services and applications to a cloud platform. In an interview with Federal Times, Hodgkins said that FBI systems and databases would be able to run more efficiently and at a lower cost than legacy systems that frequently run in to trouble when trying to connect to new technology.

"Building a cloud infrastructure gives the FBI the flexibility to decide how much they want to use and what controls and authentications they want to deploy," Hodgkins said.

The cloud environment employed by the FBI must be based between two data centers at least 1,500 miles apart, be able to scale to 2.3 petabytes of memory and replicate data between the two facilities. The platform should also be able to support a wide range of services, including pay-as-you-go policies, scalability and the ability to access all stored information securely and in real-time. The agency also requires the infrastructure to include the use of virtualization, rapid elasticity, resource pooling, continuous monitoring and centrally managed multi-site operations.

The FBI is hoping to make a five year commitment with a contractor to help create and run the public cloud system.