The U.S. Army’s current tactical network delivers a wide range of capabilities for warfighters, including unprecedented communications on the move. But the complexity can overwhelm commanders who have countless critical tasks to complete and soldiers’ lives in their hands. Future tactical networks will automate many processes and may be smart enough to advise commanders, similar to JARVIS, Iron Man’s computerized assistant.
Virtualization and cloud implementation are critical components of information technology planning, acquisition and management going forward. Cloud implementations are important to security, efficiency, effectiveness, cost savings and more pervasive information sharing, particularly among enterprises. Cloud architectures also are extremely important for more effective use of mobile technologies. Mobility increasingly is important, particularly for the military, which needs a full range of information technology services while on the move. Yet increased movement to the cloud, along with traditional uses of spectrum, are putting unprecedented demands on every part of the spectrum.
Researchers working on multiple projects in Europe and the United States are using cloud computing to teach robotic systems to perform a multitude of tasks ranging from household chores to serving hospital patients and flipping pancakes. The research, which one day could be applied to robotic systems used for national defense, homeland security or medical uses, lowers costs while allowing robots to learn more quickly, share information and better cooperate with one another.
The global market for cloud-based architecture and related services and applications is expected to surge through 2017, analysts say. Demand for a variety of virtualized “as a service” capabilities such as infrastructure, software and security also will increase.
Worldwide spending on cloud-related technologies and services will be in the range of $174.2 billion in 2014, a 20 percent increase from the $145.2 billion spent in 2013, states a recent report by IHS Technology. According to IHS, by 2017 the cloud market will be worth $235.1 billion, triple the market’s $78.2 billion in 2011.
The U.S. Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) is helping the service put its joint modernization plans into place. As the command responsible for handling cyberspace, communications and information missions, it is the Air Force’s instrument in meeting major Defense Department technology goals, such as establishing the Joint Information Environment (JIE).
Software developed by university researchers accurately predicts cloud computing issues before they occur, enhancing reliability; cutting costs; potentially improving cybersecurity; and saving lives on the battlefield.
Infrastructure-as-a-service clouds are prone to performance anomalies because of their complex nature. But researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have developed software that monitors a wide array of system-level data in the cloud infrastructure—including memory used, network traffic and computer power usage—to define normal behavior for all virtual machines in the cloud; to detect deviations; and to predict anomalies that could create problems for users.
The U.S. Defense Department now is advancing into the third generation of information technologies. This progress is characterized by migration from an emphasis on server-based computing to a concentration on the management of huge amounts of data. It calls for technical innovation and the abandonment of primary dependence on a multiplicity of contractors.
The move to the cloud that is gripping all elements of government and industry offers great potential for the U.S. Navy, according to its chief information officer. Terry Halvorsen told the breakfast audience on the final day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, that the move to the cloud is one of the best areas for gaining effect in Navy information technology.
However, other elements must fall into place for this move to be successful. Halvorsen said it must be but it must be coupled “with how you look at and structure applications,” adding the Navy has too many applications.
Another Overhyped Fad
By Mark M. Lowenthal
Director of National Intelligence Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper, USAF (Ret.), once observed that one of the peculiar behaviors of the intelligence community is to erect totem poles to the latest fad, dance around them until exhaustion sets in, and then congratulate oneself on a job well done.
Recent insider security breaches have put increased scrutiny on the U.S. intelligence community’s cloud computing plans. But cloud computing initiatives remain unchanged as the technology is expected to enhance cybersecurity and provide analysts with easier ways to do their jobs in less time.
The first step toward an enterprisewide information environment is taking place on desktops belonging to personnel with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Deployment has begun for the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise, or ICITE, which aims to provide a common computing environment based on cloud technology (see SIGNAL Magazine articles Managing Change in the Intelligence Community and Intelligence CIOs Teaming for Change from October 2012).
The U.S. Army Signal Corps is expanding the work its personnel conduct while dealing with technology and operational challenges that both help and hinder its efforts. On the surface, Army signal is facing the common dilemma afflicting many other military specialties—it must do more with fewer resources.
NATO is adopting an enterprise approach to networking so it can take advantage of new defense information system capabilities as well as recent developments gleaned from Southwest Asia operations. This approach would allow different countries participating in alliance operations to network their own command, control and communications systems at the onset of an operation.
However, meeting this goal will require more than desire and a network architecture. NATO’s 28 members must come together to agree on and support a solution that underpins the enterprise approach. And, this must take place against the backdrop of budgetary constraints across the breadth of the alliance’s member nations.
Recent government initiatives to trim the number of data centers in the federal government have been beset by unforeseen delays in meeting target goals. Key among these challenges is the realization that the number of data centers is actually much larger than originally thought. Testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on July 25, the heads of several federal oversight agencies discussed why ongoing efforts have faltered and disagreed with the committee’s interpretation of the situation.
Rear Adm. Robert Day Jr., USCG, assistant U.S. Coast Guard commandant for command, control, communications and information technology, sees the Joint Information Environment as an opportunity to resolve some of the most pressing information technology problems in the years to come as he faces a future with more challenges and fewer resources. He says a military-wide common operating environment will establish “enterprisewide mandates that programs cannot ignore.”
The U.S. Navy uses a popular online collaboration tool to change course around last-minute travel restrictions.
The U.S. Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center, charged with conducting safety and environmental training worldwide, successfully is circumventing hurriedly imposed government travel restrictions by using an online application to conduct safety and environmental training. The tool recently enabled the center to conduct an annual conference with more than 1,000 attendees.
From handheld to the cloud, new technologies are driving new approaches to data assurance.
The increasing use of readily available and inexpensive commercial technologies by the military is changing the way the Defense Information Systems Agency provides information assurance. As these technologies are integrated into the Defense Department information infrastructure, the agency is adjusting its approaches to providing security for its networks and the data that reside on them.
Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 2
The Joint Information Environment (JIE) took center stage during the second day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore. The conference devoted one full panel to the joint environment, but presenters throughout the day stressed the JIE’s importance to the future of the U.S. military and coalition partners, discussed some of the challenges to achieving the vision and vowed that the department will make it happen despite any remaining obstacles.
The Air Force encounters turbulence of the digital kind when it underestimates the complexity of moving the service to a single network.
The U.S. Air Force’s migration to a new enterprise network known as AFNET will be at least two years late in completion because the project turned out to be more complicated than planners anticipated.
The Defense Department is teaming up with a well-known cloud computing giant to resolve security concerns.
Over the next several months, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will partner with Google to learn how to implement critical security capabilities in a cloud computing environment. The pilot program, involving selected members of DISA’s staff, will explore how the U.S. Defense Department will implement security when it begins to offer cloud computing services to the military in the future.