Monday, January 16, 2012
“Macro Clouds” and “Micro Clouds” for DoD
Cloud computing does not require running every application from a large data center. It is possible to split applications to run locally and securely on micro clouds to be re-synchronized whenever they can connect to the macro clouds. Without ability to reconnect limited purpose computer devices from the battlefield to central commands will not be seen any more as a hurdle in the adoption of cloud computing. It is also possible to run a functional application, such as logistics, human resources or finance as micro clouds that will reconnect with the DoD enterprise macro cloud only as needed.
Micro cloud servers will be able to operate at forward locations in support of warfighters at location where real-time connectivity is not available or desirable. Limited applications of cloud computing must operate in the battle space when local forces need only limited amounts of pre-loaded applications as well as only geographically limited data. Similarly, logistic micro clouds can run in isolation in a warehouse space until such time when it must reconnect with military demands for inventory data.
Thorough micro clouds the benefits of macro clouds can be extended to troops in the battlefield wherever network connectivity is neither reliable nor has sufficient capacity to support feature-rich media. Micro clouds can be securely authorized as small computer servers running on devices as small as a high-capacity universal serial bus thumb drive attached to a laptop computer or to a shirt-pocket smart phone.
From an architectural standpoint, the size of micro clouds can be also defined by usage, which could view functional applications to be designed as dictated by the scope of operations and not necessarily limited by the available bandwidth.
Micro clouds are inexpensive, since they can be hosted on consumer-grade computing devices. They can be secure, since the macro clouds can not only download applications with limited use, for a limited time, but also implant in the micro clouds security restrictions that can be re-verified when re-synchronization takes place.
A DoD architectural design that views separate parts of the enterprise as an agglomeration of micro cloud components also offers additional conceptual advantages. Individual ships, separate submarines or even entire expeditionary units can start organizing their systems as diverse clouds which will nevertheless remain connected as a part of an overall DoD Platform-as-a-Service design.
Structuring DoD systems for easy separation into micro clouds and then for re-integration into larger enterprise clouds offers a path to system interoperability. In terms cyber operations all of the DoD macro cloud is ultimately composed of hundreds of micro clouds!
What matters is the ability of DoD/OSD to impose on the entire enterprise a structure of standards and designs, which will permit the pursuit of enormous diversity while imposing full compliance so that all macro clouds can split into micro clouds and all micro clouds can re-integrate into macro clouds. Whenever that happens, DoD systems will surely be interoperable.