According to the Department of Defense, everything from back-office chores to battlefield operations will be supported by cloud computing. However, outside of the continental United States, there are considerable additional challenges to overcome.
A new strategy announced by the Department of Defense in May revealed the DOD's approach to overcoming those obstacles. The government gave FedScoop fresh details on how it plans to tackle the technical and resource-intensive challenges of deploying cloud at the so-called "tactical edge."
The strategy notes, "Cloud computing can help address today's national defense difficulties, but its ultimate potential is to tackle tomorrow's challenges." "At the global point of need, at the tactical edge, and in the struggle, collaboration across various domains, increasingly enabled by high-tech, software-driven solutions, must occur."
The department wants more cloud and data storage capabilities to enable multi-domain operations in the areas where it operates. This includes the ability to transmit data between planes, ground vehicles, and any other platforms in battle, which will rely on the ability to expand networks with cloud storage capabilities to turn that data into actionable information.
The hostile circumstances in which the military frequently operates provide various obstacles for the computers, requiring meticulous configurations. The Department of Defense claims to be working on a solution that involves more minor, less power-hungry computers.
Because the Department of Defense is continually moving its activities, the hardware that comprises the computing backbone must likewise be transportable.
According to the spokesperson, “the quick speed of developments in mobile cloud compute capabilities creates the assumption that a mobile cloud can be handled like any other set of forward-deployed resources, such as planes, ships, or infantry battalions.”
Not only does physical gear need to be movable, but data processing elasticity is also crucial. The capacity for systems to expand to meet demand is one of the benefits of the cloud that the military wants to take advantage of, given the possibility of unexpected surges of data in a scenario where the military would need to respond quickly.
"Similarly, data capacity requirements will be fluid and tied to mission goals. The commercial cloud has freed commercial businesses from needing to plan for and purchase against the largest, but isolated compute surges, one of its basic values. In light of the preceding, when mission demands grow and more resources are deployed in-theater, a planned expansion of data and compute capacity can be deployed alongside those units", according to a DOD spokeswoman.
When cloud hardware is located outside of the United States, cybersecurity becomes much more challenging. According to DOD standards, foreign internet connections and better access to technology make sensitive data a prime target for attackers. However, according to the Agency of Defense, the approach will be comparable to how the Department plans to defend its networks and cloud capabilities within the United States.
"All Cloud-based services implemented by the Department, regardless of physical location, shall be guided by the concepts and pillars of the Department's zero-trust approach and reference architecture. This applies to both deployed CONUS and OCONUS forces, according to the spokesperson.
Zero trusts is a network architecture based on the notion that every user has "zero" trust and cannot wander freely across a network just because they have credentials. Whether inside or outside the United States, that framework is meant to separate networks to stop attackers who get beyond the initial security line.
Human resources are being used to meet all of the issues that OCONUS cloud operations encounter. To set up and run the unique technology, the DOD plans to send cloud engineers and experts teams into the field.
"For example, rather than shipping hard drives back to the CONUS for processing due to bandwidth constraints, the strategy calls for deploying research teams to investigate creative ways to analyze data closer to the tactical edge.
According to the spokeswoman, these focused research and development efforts are designed to lead to capabilities enhancements that may need a speedier tech-refresh cycle.