Go back five years, and “cloud” was a word that you simply didn’t mention when talking with defence agencies about their technology systems. The reason was understandable concerns about where data was being stored and its security.
Most of our client conversations back then focused on how to sustain critical battlefield systems that were 20 to 25 years old. Fast-forward to 2020, those conversations have changed beyond recognition – with cloud not only being talked about, but actively adopted by more and more defence agencies globally.
Three drivers for adoption
Why the change? Defence agencies need greater agility to respond to an ever-evolving threat landscape. And within this overall imperative, there are three key drivers for their adoption of cloud:
- For defence agencies, it is mission critical to have the right information at the right time. Information that leads to accurate, timely and comprehensive insights, and the situational awareness needed to understand and predict the actions of allies and adversaries, both on and off the battlefield. The problem and opportunity today is that advances in areas like remote electronic sensors, cybersecurity and surveillance mean there’s now infinitely more information available than ever before. Cloud offers the scalability and processing power needed to handle this mass of data and turn it into actionable intelligence.
Take cyber warfare. If you’re up against an enemy that’s ubiquitous and deploying new capabilities in real time, and you’re having to deploy servers physically to project your capability, you simply can’t keep pace. Cloud can help you to keep up.
There’s the pressure from commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) becoming increasingly cloud-enabled. Alongside their bespoke military applications, defence agencies are increasingly using COTS systems to help run their operations. As these offerings go cloud-only, agencies must move to cloud to access the latest versions if they want to continue using them.
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enterprises are confident they enjoy better security protection with their cloud providers than with any solution they can build alone.
enterprises report quantifiable gains in one or more of the areas of operational efficiencies, infrastructure and/or storage costs and time-to-market.
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Cloud security leapfrogs in-house systems
Modern advanced threat detection and incident management capabilities mean that cloud is arguably more secure than traditional on-premises systems.
Take recent research we commissioned from IDG into cloud computing adoption by 600 enterprises across various industries. Almost three-quarters (73%) are confident they enjoy better security protection with their cloud providers than with any solution they can build alone. A similar number (79%) report quantifiable gains in one or more of the areas of operational efficiencies, infrastructure and/or storage costs and time-to-market.
In combination with the drivers for cloud adoption highlighted above, our findings underline that cloud computing is a vital enabler in making next-generation defence a reality. Today’s defence agencies need to manage and interpret high-volume, high-diversity and high-sensitivity information while also freeing up their people from data management to concentrate on core missions. Cloud can help enable agencies to meet these competing demands – while also transforming the speed and agility with which they can generate and act on insights from data.
What’s more, in times of conflict, data is at the core of operations, assisting defence agencies to outmaneuver uncertainty. And powerful technologies like robotics, immersive reality, artificial intelligence and connected devices are rapidly transforming battlefield operations. Given the sheer volume of data involved, it’s unlikely that existing IT infrastructures could scale on demand to support these new systems where and when they’re needed. Cloud offers the required capabilities.
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Given the sheer volume of data involved, it’s unlikely that existing IT infrastructures could scale on demand to support these new systems where and when they’re needed. Cloud offers the required capabilities.
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Extending across borders
All of this adds up to a powerful business case for cloud in defence. Major cloud providers including Amazon and Microsoft have invested heavily in cloud infrastructures catering to the needs of defence agencies within their national borders.
However, harnessing cloud within borders is just the start. To realize its full power, agencies need to move beyond their separate, siloed systems to connect and exchange data with partners and allies, no matter what cloud provider they have selected. This will mean overhauling existing IT infrastructures to help achieve a balance of cloud and edge computing across multiple providers, supported by a renewed focus on hardware as a conduit for sharing and passing on data rather than an end-point where it resides.
Coming up next
The message is clear: cloud is the future for defence systems. But what principles should agencies apply in planning for cloud success? We’ll answer that question in our next blog. Meanwhile, please reach out to us with any thoughts or insights. And stay tuned!
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