Aerospace and Defence

IBM and Improbable in partnership to deliver a new technology edge

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“A nation’s ability to fight a modern war is as good as its technological ability.” (Frank Whittle, RAF officer and inventor of the Turbojet engine)



The war in Ukraine demonstrates that we need to rethink how we configure ourselves for modern, multi-domain hybrid conflict.  Against an undemocratic adversary with different values, our tactics and strategies can be anticipated and undercut. Our traditional decision making processes are too slow.

Perhaps most importantly, we can no longer take our technological edge for granted. Spurred by the race against German advances in military capability, the great British innovator Frank Whittle saw clearly that technological edge is the ultimate determinant of success in conflict. In critical areas such as hypersonics, artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing, the scales may have already tipped against us.

We must master the complexity of the modern battlefield. Which means a transformation in the way we develop and adopt transformative technologies that help our armed forces to train, prepare, plan and operate.

Enabling enterprise-wide agile software development at the speed of relevance

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) spotted this some time ago.  In order to deliver more mission value to front line commands, Defence Digital initiated the Digital Foundry aimed at tackling common challenges across the defence estate. This visionary initiative promotes innovation and collaboration across industry and government and doing so beyond traditional contractual relationships.  Enabling greater speed and agility in the way technology and innovation is exploited to deliver new capabilities and mission value to the armed forces.

In a collaborative partnership – working closely with UK Strategic Command, Defence Digital, and other parts of the UK military – IBM and Improbable are leaning forward to help realise this vision. Through this partnership they are forging not only technology innovations but a new ecosystem and relationships.

Commitment to open standards

The Improbable-IBM team is working to ensure Improbable’s Synthetic Environment Solutions, developed on and powered by Improbable’s Skyral platform, leverage IBM and Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform (OCP) and the investments the MOD has made in the Defence DevSecOps Service (D2S) to deliver complex Synthetic Environments faster than ever before.  Improbable’s Skyral platform can operate on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform and supports the D2S standard to rapidly centrally develop and deploy new SE solutions to users across the MOD.

In doing this, Improbable, IBM and the Digital Foundry are ensuring the next generation of synthetic environments can get in the hands of end users as quickly as possible while helping the MOD to realise significant value for money across their synthetic and simulation estate.  It’s constructive disruption with value today that only improves over time as use cases expand. It’s about an evolution where industry partners and government evolve together – hand in glove.

Collaborating across the defence ecosystem

Improbable’s platform, Skyral, is an ecosystem of integrated technologies and services for the development and evolution of Synthetic Environments. It provides a broad community of developers, research and applied scientists access to everything they need to furnish defence and national security organisations with a new generation of synthetic environments, which are sufficiently representative, available at the point and time of need, and are excellent value for money.  Skyral enables the MOD and industry partners to collaborate and build complex synthetic environments for use in training, preparation, planning and live operations.

Red Hat OpenShift is a Kubernetes container platform that provides a trusted environment to run enterprise workloads. It extends the Kubernetes platform with built-in software to enhance app lifecycle development, operations, and security.  Openshift is powering MOD’s Defence DevSecOps Service (D2S), and provides the OpenShift Container Platform (OCP) open standard.  This same standard underpins IBM’s Defence Simulation Analytical Service (DSaS) offering which provides the technology and services to accelerate the on-boarding and convergence of data sources by harnessing AI for multi-domain situational awareness and to test assumptions and hypotheses – setting up the data fabric to underpin a modern and streamlined data management and governance foundation.

Both Improbable and IBM recognise that no one company, or vertical consortium, can solve everything on their own, and by combining solutions such as Skyral, OpenShift and DSaS – rather than duplicating them in silos – we can provide greater outcomes to our users.  Common standards and architectures alone won’t deliver the dynamic interoperability, the rapid composability, or the real-time evolution that we need. Instead, we need collaboration on an unprecedented scale – allowing great technologies across industry to deliver better value together.

The urgency of this new era of intensifying global competition requires an unwavering focus on the mission: if it’s the best solution for the job, then let’s use it. The consequences of failing to cooperate are compelling. By contrast, the upshot of industry-wide collaboration is inspiring. We can build solutions fast enough to be genuinely relevant to situations as they play out, rich enough in real world data and on a sound technology foundation to be truly load-bearing for the user. It works faster, better and costs less.

Improbable and IBM have blended the best of new and existing technologies along with their expertise to help provide a better foundation for others to build off of with their technologies and solutions.  In a following blog post we’ll show you how Skyral, OpenShift and DSaS come together to provide a solid Synthetic Environment and Data foundation for others to build off of with their own unique technologies and services.

We are building towards a new way of doing business within the defence sector, not only in the UK but with an eye to the global Multi-Domain Integration/Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) market. Collaborating more and making the most of each other’s strengths, rather than working in silos, opens up a world of possibilities. It is these possibilities that will give us the technological edge we need to protect our families, our communities, our economies, our alliances, and our values.

Whether from industry or academia, if you want to be part of this new way of working and help our Armed Forces maintain their technological edge, then get in touch with us.  We are at IBM in Defence and Improbable Defence.

Global Lead for Defence and Intelligence Global Markets

Chris Nott

Global Technical Leader for Defence & Security

Mike Raker

CTO Defence, Improbable

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