The inherent challenges associated with managing cloud systems in disrupted, disconnected, intermittent and low-bandwidth (DDIL) environments requires looking at the issue from multiple perspectives.
At SAIC, we view this problem through three lenses—the mission, the technology, and the culture. Only through a holistic analysis can we put forward the best solutions that enable data and information advantages for the Naval Forces over any foe or near-peer competitor.
Users, providers, and enablers of cloud-based IT infrastructure and services should first look at, and understand, the missions and environments in which those missions will take place. Naval Forces in every domain need access to data and applications at the edge to execute their missions. From space to the ocean floor, the need for data to inform critical decision-making is ubiquitous. At present, most of the access for that data is all on, all the time and the only limit is the capacity at which that data can be transmitted, received, and synthesized. Key to success is getting the data and analysis securely, in the right hands, when and wherever needed. In future conflicts, in a DDIL environment, Naval Forces will be counted on to win the high-end conflict as sea. Distributed Maritime Operations allow us to do that, and with Naval Forces disbursed across a wide geography, the requirement for timely, actionable data will be critical to sustaining an all-domain advantage, and designing and fielding robust and resilient cloud connectivity is what will enable those forces to be successful.
Next, users and providers must gain a thorough understanding of the technologies—existing and in development—that enable mission success in even the most austere environment. Serving up data and apps in a pristine high-bandwidth environment is relatively easy. Witness increasing 5G connectivity in major cities: Connection is easy, uploads and downloads are done with lightning speed, and data limits are, in many cases, unconstrained.
In a DDIL environment however, users must make shifts in both their mentality and architecture, going from net- and user-centric views, to edge-centric, discrete-user designs. Under duress in a DDIL environment, edge users need the capability to process and exchange data locally until a reliable connection to the cloud at sufficient scale can be re-established. To do so, users need disconnected processing power with smart reach-back. That smart reach-back could be AI-enabled to help warfighters at the edge know what data and apps they might need locally before the threat of information disruption. There are myriad other technical dimensions we and others are looking at to enable the mission in that environment, and high among them are more network resilience
and more advanced approaches to cyber from system and sub-system levels, to the enterprise architecture level.
Finally, we need to view the user’s organization and culture. Even if users have the world’s best cloud solution to meet the mission challenge, it will fail in achieving true transformation if the design does not address the employment and organizational change implications synonymous with its implementation. A single company or organization will not provide tomorrow’s solutions. Rather, solution development to the complex challenges associated with information and data surety in a DDIL environment will come from an innovation ecosystem where collaboration by government, academia, commercial technology companies, and technology integrators (like SAIC) working together in an open architecture and model.
TRI-FOCAL NOT MONOCLE VIEWS
To enable mission success before conflict, industry and government have to look at DDIL management and its associated challenges through these lenses if we want to make tangible headway for our warfighters and maintain dominance. As a renowned agnostic integrator and innovator with deep knowledge of warfighting needs, SAIC is accelerating innovation to match the pace of change inherent in this information-driven age. Over the last several decades, the terms used to describe challenges have changed, but what has not changed is the core solution: bringing the best technology has to offer and applying it in a way that is relevant and supportive of missions that have unique challenges.
While it may be hard, it is fun and exciting—and it is what motivates our team at SAIC.