Cloud Computing Comes to US Air Force
Cloud computing is coming to the U.S. Air Force.
The Air Force announced today that it is awarding IBM a contract to design and demonstrate a secure cloud computing infrastructure to support their defense and intelligence networks.
With cloud computing, programs and applications are not installed on the hard drive of a user's computer, but rather are hosted on servers and data storage systems that can be accessed over the Internet. For example, Google Docs is a cloud-based word processing program that can be accessed on any computer or wired device with a compatible Web browser. Because documents created in Google Docs are saved on Google's servers instead of the users' hard drive, they can be accessed from anywhere.
"Our goal is to demonstrate how cloud computing can be a tool to enable our Air Force to manage, monitor and secure the information flowing through our network," Lt. Gen. William Lord of the U.S. Air Force said in a statement.
"We examined the expertise of IBM's commercial performance in cloud computing and asked them to develop an architecture that could lead to improved performance within the Air Force environment to improve all operational, analytical and security capabilities."
Currently, the Air Force's network manages the operations of nine major commands, nearly 100 bases, and 700,000 active military personnel around the world. By using cloud computing, the military can pool and centrally manage information technology (IT) resources such as services, applications, storage devices and servers. These resources can then be monitored and made available on demand on the Internet.
The Obama Administration has called for more extensive adoption of cloud computing in the federal government to improve IT efficiency, reduce costs, and provide a standard platform for delivering government services.
During the ten-month project, IBM plans to collaborate with military personnel and other federal agencies to implement a high level of security and network resiliency into the Air Force cloud design.
The company hopes to integrate Advanced "stream computing" analytics into the network, which would enable the Air Force to continually analyze the massive amounts of data flowing through its network and to get fast, accurate, and reports about potential threats like cyber attacks and network, system or application failures, without disruptions.
Customized executive-level dashboards will also be used to deliver up-to-date information on the health and status of the network, the Air Force said.
Instant access to information, for instance, would enable Air Force officials to automatically shift the prevention environment in the event of a cyber attack or network anomalies.
The military also plans to install an important feature of the cloud model called autonomic computing, which will enable virtual cloud services to be managed remotely and allow the cloud infrastructure to retune itself for optimal performance without human intervention.