Thursday, November 19, 2009

Guest blog: Navy demonstrates value of military cloud computing during recent naval exercise

By Kevin Jackson

In October as part of the U.S. Navy's annual Trident Warrior exercise, Dataline LLC demonstrated that a standard shipboard communications infrastructure could be used to manage a commercial cloud computing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform.

Presented during the fall Trident Warrior '10 (TW '10) lab period, Dataline's secure cloud computing experiment used a simulated shipboard infrastructure to demonstrate secure access to selected collaboration and geospatial information service (GIS) applications. The purpose was to validate the ability of a commercial Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform to support Navy requirements for military cloud computing in terms of global connectivity, server failover, and application access.

For this portion of the exercise, Dataline used the Amazon EC2 IaaS platform. The experiment also used SecureParser as part of the Unisys Stealth architecture to provide data-in-motion security. Dataline also used included Oracle Beehive, ERDAS Apollo and the Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) developed Transverse collaboration suite.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Caroline Lahman, the officer in charge of Navy FORCEnet San Diego, says she was pleased with the results, and says she wants to continue these cloud computing experiments as part of the spring lab period. Cloud computing typically involves dynamically scalable and often virtualized computer hardward and software resources as a service over the Internet.

Robert Carey, Navy Chief Information Officer, also says that cloud computing offered real value to the Navy. Citing that the Navy Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) and Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) programs will use cloud computing, he envisions a future day when gray clouds within a ship's hull would eventually switch to clouds within the battle group.

The increased IT efficiency delivered through cloud computing also would make more resources available for investment into Navy ships and aircraft. Carey says he sees ready access to authoritative data from the cloud as an important enabler to a real-time/near real-time decision making process, saying that the cloud delivers the ability to have a ubiquitous computing environment and interoperability.

After observing the experiment, representatives from the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego voiced similar sentiments, saying that the Navy is considering cloud computing technologies as part of its Naval Networks Enterprise-2016 strategy.

Trident Warrior '10 is scheduled to continue with a second lab period in the spring 2010 and an at sea demonstration period after that. For further information on the Trident Warrior lab based experiments, contact Lt. Cmdr. Caroline Lahman by e-mail at

Kevin Jackson is a vice president at cloud computing specialist Dataline LLC in Norfolk, Va., and is retired from the U.S. Navy, where he served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide. His "Cloud Musings" blog at focuses on cloud computing.

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