Defence & Intelligence

Cloud for the Military?

Cloud Computing is often misunderstood, shrouded in technical gobbledygook.  Once striped this away, we see the real potential that Cloud offers to organisations wishing to adapt & transform.  Let’s start with a pictorial definition, shown in Figure 1,

Cloud Defn

Figure 1 – Cloud : A Pictorial Definition

Clients in all industries are reaping benefit from Cloud adoption, including:

  1. Speed & Agility – Using cloud to innovate fast. Quickly build cloud applications. Tap into pay-for-use global IT infrastructure.  Cloud offers the platform for Mobile and Social Business .
  2. Empowerment – Giving users the software they need, freeing developers to focus on apps whilst enabling IT to become a service provider.
  3. Economics – Saving time with self-service cloud. Buy just what you need. Shift CAPEX to OPEX. Increase utilisation.

See also “Cloud Explained with a Pizza Analogy”.

But will cloud ever be right for the Military?  Defence & Intelligence organisations face two major & conflicting challenges:

  1. Mission Complexity / Agility  – their role can change from disaster recovery, offensive operations, peace keeping very quickly, so agility is key.  Multiple simultaneous mission types are now commonplace.  The unpredictable & asymmetric terrorist threat means that Intelligence operations are similarly complex, demanding unprecedented levels of agility.
  2. Constrained Budgets / Reducing Costs – global austerity reduced the defence & intelligence budgets of even the largest and richest nations.  Reducing costs is thus always a priority for our clients.

Cloud computing can help address these fundamental changes as shown in Figure 2 below.

Cloud Mil Benefit a

Figure 2 – Military Benefits of Cloud

There are some serious inhibitors for sure – I will explore these, and how they can be overcome in a future blog post – but when the chips are down, do the military really have a choice?

Militaries increasingly leverage commercial off the shelf technologies (COTS) rather than bespoke solutions. This trend will continue with Cloud.

If they wish to take advantage of modern devices (e.g. mobile technology) they need to embrace Cloud architectures that support them. The majority of new COTS applications are available “as a Service” so a cloud infrastructure is needed to reap their benefit.  On-premise “headquarters” computing will become more Cloud like over time.

So it’s really a question of what kind of Cloud is going to be deployed when rather than *if*.

Agree? Disagree? Disinterested? I welcome your feedback / participation preferably via this blog or by e-mail / telephone if you prefer.

Director - Blockchain | National Security - CTO Team Europe

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