Hoorah! Military applications of cloud computing.


It is true the majority of our most prized technological advances were born out of the efforts of space travelers and soldiers. NASA gave us Tang while the military gave us canned food and the Internet. But in order to maintain its effectiveness, national defense must live in a constant state of innovation. It must pull from technologies and strategies from all over the world, like cloud computing, every time adapting them for application within a military context.

Now, with an endless budget and world-class minds it’s not hard to imagine a military base filled with pure science fiction. But even the military isn’t immune to budget cuts. The United States Army has seen their total fiscal budget reduced from $680 billion in 2011 to a meager $472 billion in 2013 thanks to the Budget Control Act. So how does a world-class army stay at the top of its game in the face of aggressive budget cuts? They innovate on the cloud, of course.

Cloud computing helps Army do more with less

Before we get to the crazy talk about robot soldiers and the end of the world, it’s important to point out the majority of military activities that use cloud computing are real-time, automated to financial management, communications and planning. By getting on the cloud the Army has a chance to do more with less and they’re starting by doing what they do best—being organized.

Cloud.mil is a cloud computing solution designed by a small team of Army nerds and aims to advance the degree of control and automation personnel have over tasks that would otherwise require a phone call or labor. With Cloud.mil, personnel can use point-and-click technology for uploading information, and deploying activities. IT also takes care of backing up information, log monitoring and performance metrics all delivered to a dashboard application for network managers.

Currently in the pre-production phase, Cloud.mil is headed by officials with the Army’s Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Software Engineering Center (SEC), Aberdeen Proving Ground and is set to save precious budget dollars on licenses, personnel and security assurances.

Let’s not forget about security—it’s the military after all. Through built-in security assurances, Cloud.mil information cannot be shared or uploaded to the cloud without meeting strict assurance coding requirements. These information assurances are embedded within the Army-specific code of the cloud computing application to eliminate vulnerabilities. In other words, Cloud.mil simply won’t run any apps that don’t fully adhere to specific codes created by a bunch of type “A” neurotics. This is a high security bar to clear but it’s also one that allows personnel to access the cloud through their smart phone or personal computer or laptop meaning no standard issue device is required to connect to the cloud and Cloud.mil can run on any OS.

Although Cloud.mil has yet to be implemented throughout the Department of Defense, officials are keeping an eye on its productivity and cost-saving capabilities as it goes into production at the end of this fiscal year. With that kind of development schedule, the use of cloud computing solutions in the battlefield and beyond may not be too far off.