The aerospace and defence industry has traditionally been at the forefront of innovation. It was an early pioneer of Industry 4.0 and 3D printing, and drove advances in artificial intelligence, GPS navigation and satellites. So for an industry that recognises the value of emerging technology, why have only half of aerospace and defence organisations identified a new IT operating model that accommodates cloud?

What sets the aerospace and defence sector apart from many others is its laser focus on security – and understandably so. Established procedures for safeguarding data – which often involves government furnished information, export controlled data and sensitive national security information – often makes industry leaders hesitate to embrace the integrated security capabilities of the cloud, and legal departments shake their heads profusely.

What they’re missing out on is the ability to effectively leverage the oceans of data being thrown off by remote electronic sensors, cybersecurity, and satellite and drone surveillance. To manage, protect and actually use this information, aerospace and defence organisations will have to boost their storage capacity and analytical processing power.

The good news is that, by using cloud platforms, combined with integrated security throughout the IT supply chain, aerospace and defence companies can secure their critical data well beyond traditional perimeter security practices, thanks to:

  • Data sovereignty in the cloud – Major cloud providers, including Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle, have invested heavily in cloud infrastructures catering to the needs of aerospace and defence organisations within their national borders. All cloud companies now have infrastructure on Australian soil to meet their clients’ data sovereignty requirements.
  • Cloud security armies – Hundreds of security analysts and architects are allocated to protect cloud platforms as compared with (typically) a handful for on-premise infrastructure. Cloud platforms also have elaborate analytics capabilities in place to help audit their data. This is why Accenture research found 60% of aerospace and defence companies expect better security in the cloud.
  • Cloud evergreen capabilities – Cloud platforms are regularly and consistently patched to address security vulnerabilities. In the cloud, every project and silo is brought together under a single, evergreen managed platform, with each security update flowing automatically, right across the environment, on time. This is particularly attractive for organisations with shadow IT enclaves, where patching discipline is notoriously lax because business lines are managing it themselves. Cloud computing also strengthens security by reducing the risks of individual errors or weaknesses in each silo, while ensuring consistent security standards across the entire organisation.

No wonder two-thirds of aerospace and defence companies have already done formal planning and analysis of legacy applications for cloud migration. Yet, while the majority (86%) have evaluated IaaS solutions, only half have identified a chosen solution at this point. Organisations in this sector are still hesitating.

How to get started with cloud

Moving at least some workloads to the cloud is no longer a choice – it’s an inevitability. At some point providers won’t offer on-prem solutions any more. Already, we’re seeing a dramatic uplift in the major enterprise software providers producing cloud-only solutions.

The industry needn’t worry about being an early adopter. That ship has sailed. Cloud is a now mainstream, highly secure, proven software, platform and infrastructure solution. The migration path is well worn. Fortunately, small steps can bring significant rewards:

  • Take a nuanced approach – Not all workloads will make it to the public cloud. Some will need to be in a protected cloud. Some organisations will choose to keep highly classified and sensitive data on-prem.
  • Work up to it incrementally - Keep control of migration. Start with a low-risk, simple, unclassified workload. Test, learn and work from there.
  • Start with SaaS – Software as a Service is a great way to dip a toe in the water, delivering easy-to-measure cost savings every time.
  • Build a realistic TOC model – Total cost of ownership can be a complex equation, but it’s worth developing a realistic measure to assist with business cases. TOC is a lot more than IT management spend. In reality, organisations with shadow IT often spend around double their official IT budget.

As the ability to spin up infrastructure quickly and manage high data volumes becomes a strategic necessity for aerospace and defence organisations, it is no longer a case of whether to use cloud, but how.

Now is the time for aerospace and defence organisations to define their cloud strategies so they can continue to drive impressive innovation and meet their strategic goals.

Bernard Ash

Director of Innovation – Aerospace and Defence, Australia

Paul Mylon

Managing Director – Aerospace and Defense, Australia

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