As a Thales’ field service representative who was deployed internationally supporting the Australian Defence Force, Ryan Lean has seen a thing or two. A pressing in-theatre challenge he keeps coming back to? Mission agility.
The demands of the battlefield are constantly changing. But far too often applications that are needed in the moment take weeks, even months, to fully deploy — significantly detracting from mission effectiveness. To keep potential issues at bay, militaries need to ensure their defence clouds are meeting the agility mission challenge. That includes examining both the hardware, configuration and human factors.
With the new Nexium Defence Cloud Edge (NDC Edge), Thales looks to ease the burden on IT professionals in-theatre and address the agility challenge head-on. The cloud-based hub context interface means that militaries can radically reduce lead times and make decisions based on a present context. Ultimately, the end user will have a less complex time administering this new system.
Today’s in-theatre platforms
Currently, shortcomings in agility have a negative impact on in-theatre activity, affecting everyone from key decision-makers to IT staff, and hindering mission capacity, timing and manpower.
Some of the most common limitations on agility include:
- Hardware architecture that requires specialist training to be optimised for mission capacity
- Inconsistent handling between different deployed networks
- Mobile platforms that are hard-coded with dedicated software
Each of these problems limits the ability of warfighters to take advantage of all that a system may offer and hinders the platform’s ability to handle new applications that may be essential for a mission.
Ryan Lean recognises the current hurdles and believes that cloud computing innovations in NDC Edge can effectively address them.
“If we look at the current methodology, if Defence was to ask for a new application kit or new warfighter app for their system it would be subject to lengthy time constraints to package and deploy. Whereas if it were sitting in a repository of defence warfighting applications, it could just be pulled down instantly… that’s huge,” said Lean.
The difference? According to Lean, deployment time can drop from as much as a month to as little as a few hours.
The impact on IT staff
Technology moves quickly. With so many other responsibilities, it can be hard for Military ICT workers on the ground to keep up, especially with so many other factors going into each mission. Typically, an IT worker will be trained on a certain system when they start on a job — but not necessarily receive continued training as technology advances. With so much work to do in theatre, circling back and learning is a true challenge.
“The system administrators on the ground always have their backs to the wall when trying keep up with the demand of technology advances,” said Lean.
The problems that result are twofold. In addition to limiting their ability to fix some of the current limitations listed above, IT staff run the risk of impacting other parts of the platform when trying to add applications and capabilities using outdated processes.
Luckily, the design of the NDC Edge addresses both issues. The platform reduces operational risk by allowing users to revert back to a certain point and keeping changes isolated so that the system stays intact during IT work. Previously, any issue would have likely required a fact-finding mission and increased downtime.
“In this new system they can make a decision and deploy a solution without having to worry about the consequences that decision can have on the back end of their IT system,” said Lean.
Ultimately, the agility of NDC Edge means that fewer IT specialists are required in theatre, and workers can focus on the service role of the job, moving through tickets at a quicker pace.
The operational effect
Of course, the purpose of a new platform isn’t just to ease the burden on IT but on the warfighters who must use it to make decisions and keep our country safe. Reducing complexity is key here. With many current models, officers and other decision-makers don’t necessarily understand the platform and as a result fail to take full advantage of it.
“Without that core knowledge of how the system interacts and how it works these decisions can often be slow and made poorly,” said Lean.
A new system only works with the right human processes and buy-in. When things are delayed militaries tend to fall back on inefficient traditional methods — like paper trails, runners and estimates based on second-hand information. This is especially true for communication between different branches of the armed forces, whose information is often placed in completely different systems.
Making the timely switch between centralised and decentralised relationship models on one system is also essential. Defence operates in a variety of contexts — especially when coalitions are added into the discussion. In addition to improved agility, systems need the interoperability to glean information from allies and relay it to the right people. When this system breaks down, decision-makers are more likely to make do with what they have, including using the platforms and applications of other countries. In short, platforms need the flexibility to have different policies for different circumstances and still be secure.
Ultimately, the warfighter doesn’t care about the technical workings of a platform, as long as it delivers results and gets the job done in the military context — something NDC Edge was crafted specifically for.
Find out how Thales Nexium Defence Cloud Edge can increase mission agility visit: NDC Edge.