US Military Asks for Private Sector’s Help to Understand Cloud Computing

US Military Asks for Private Sector’s Help to Understand Cloud Computing

The US military has always been at the forefront of technology. From transportation to materials science, from detection to communication, US military technology has always led its commercial counterparts. The Internet, GPS, jet aircraft, even the non-stick material Teflon – all these were developed for military purposes before finding civilian applications. By anecdotal accounts, US military technology leads civilian technology by at least a decade, if not more. However, it seems to have dropped the ball as regards to one of possibly the most influential technologies of the future – cloud computing.

In spite of having developed the base for cloud computing – the Internet – the US military seems to be lagging behind the civilian sector in this regard. And this is especially galling for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the US Department of Defense’s advanced research arm that spearheaded the technological innovations mentioned earlier. Now, in an effort to remedy the situation, DARPA has reached out to the private sector for assistance by issuing a formal Request for Information (RFI).

It’s not that the US military has been completely silent as regards to cloud computing. There have been intermittent efforts to understand and co-opt this new technology (See: NATO set to rule the cloud with IBM’s help and What Does the US Military Want from Cloud Computing? ). However, with this RFI, the military is taking a bold step towards admitting its shortcomings and trying to rectify them, and it’s not above asking others for help.

The RFI’s description outlines the scope of the exercise: “In the civilian domain, cloud computing has demonstrated substantial benefits in development and maintenance of software applications. To date, the cloud computing paradigm has not been effectively exploited in embedded military applications, for reasons related to performance and correctness constraints. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) is requesting information on techniques through which the benefits of cloud computing can be obtained for embedded military systems”.

While cloud computing companies are familiar with what “cloud computing” stands for, the document defines “embedded military systems” as “computing hardware and software that is part of a larger system with a specific military purpose”. It enumerates the benefits of using cloud computing in embedded military applications as:

  • Cost efficiency: Recurring and non-recurring costs may be decreased.
  • Manufacturing agility: The time to design, implement, and deploy embedded systems may be reduced.
  • Reliability: Use of pooled resources may remove single points of failure.
  • Maintainability: System maintenance costs may be reduced since fewer unique systems are maintained. Upgrading both hardware and software may be facilitated by the reduced dependencies among system components.
  • Democratization: Since arcane optimization skills are less useful on cloud platforms, more people may be able to program for them.

At the same time, the document shows that the US military is fully cognizant of the challenges in such efforts, listing them as:

  • Efficiency: Software that is designed and written without knowledge of the specific computing platform on which it will execute is generally less optimized than platform-specific software.
  • Security: Primarily, information must not be allowed to propagate where it was not intended.
  • Reliability: Embedded applications are often subject to stringent reliability and availability requirements.
  • Performance: A salient performance requirement in many embedded systems is real-time response to external stimuli.
  • Verifiability: Performance according to specifications must be guaranteed with high degrees of certainty. Such guarantees are required for initial deployment and after upgrades.

The RFI then outlines DARPA’s expectations from the exercise, “information on innovative technologies that will overcome the preceding obstacles and obtain the benefits of cloud computing for embedded military applications…..solutions that are revolutionary, with high payoff and potentially high risk, and can be deployed into practice after 3-5 years of intensive research and development”. It also clearly mentions what DARPA does not want – “evolutionary improvements to existing approaches, methods, or practices”. The agency mentions the possibility of an invitation-only Industry Day to discuss the topic further.

It is clear that DARPA has thought long and hard on this subject, given its enumeration of advantages and disadvantages. However, what’s even more interesting is that it recognizes the wide implications of cloud computing and makes its preference for revolutionary over evolutionary changes quite clear.

By Sourya Biswas

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

Methodically Plan Your Cloud Design First

Methodically Plan Your Cloud Design First

Are You Sure You Are Ready For The Cloud: Design For the last few months, we have been discussing getting ready to go to the cloud. We have covered topics such as Financial and Business Security reasons. We have even discussed the type of knowledge you should obtain. This month, we are going to take…

Global Cloud Development An Open Question

Global Cloud Development An Open Question

Global Cloud Development Statistics and projections from Cisco’s Global Cloud Index show that the world’s data centers are already processing 4.7 zettabytes (4.7 million petabytes) per year. Cisco research says this amount will continue to grow by 23% annually for the next few years. (Inforgraphic Source: https://visual.ly/how-much-petabyte) If we project these numbers over the next 25…

Driving Insight: Analytics And The Internet of Things

Driving Insight: Analytics And The Internet of Things

Analytics And The Internet of Things  For many businesses, the Internet of Things is playing an increasingly important role, influencing day-to-day operations and strategic planning. An ecosystem of growing complexity and sophistication, the IoT calls for careful navigation: advances in connectivity and cloud-based platforms have opened up a wider range of solutions to IT decision-makers…

Cloud Pricing: What In The End Am I Actually Paying For?

Cloud Pricing: What In The End Am I Actually Paying For?

Cloud Pricing: What In The End Am I Actually Paying For? I’ve been blogging about this concept now for a while. What is the cost of a cloud solution and what in the end am I actually paying for? I know I am not the only person considering this as I’ve seen any number of articles…

How Data Science And Machine Learning Is Enabling Cloud Threat Protection

How Data Science And Machine Learning Is Enabling Cloud Threat Protection

Data Science and Machine Learning Security breaches have been consistently rising in the past few years. Just In 2015, companies detected 38 percent more security breaches than in the previous year, according to PwC’s Global State of Information Security Survey 2016. Those breaches are a major expense — an average of $3.79 million per company,…

Vendors To Enter The Cyber Security Game

Vendors To Enter The Cyber Security Game

IT Regulatory Compliance as the Next Big Focus for Cloud Vendors Back in October 2014, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) submitted a public request for information, calling for the assessment of the marketplace’s ability to “provide cloud ecosystems and services in two integration models that place vendor cloud services on DoD networks for use by…

Utilizing Software Defined Networking (SDN)

Utilizing Software Defined Networking (SDN)

Software Defined Networking Winding down this year, we only have a couple of topics left: SDNs and SDI. Although SDNs are part of a solid SDI, we want to talk directly about it now. Many cloud management tools have the ability to create a virtual network. But creating a true VXLAN would require support of…

CloudTweaks is recognized as one of the leading influencers in cloud computing, infosec, big data and the internet of things (IoT) information. Our goal is to continue to build our growing information portal by providing the best in-depth articles, interviews, event listings, whitepapers, infographics and much more.

Sponsor