When Chuck Norris Gets Cloud-Mobile

At first glance, cloud computing may seem to be distinct from the austere world of special operations forces (SOF). But Special Operations Technology‘s Eric Marks has a very interesting piece on how SOF can use the cloud to gain the tactical advantage.

Some highlights:

  • Cloud to the edge tactical mobile computing, which would feature the re-engineering of mission threads and processes so they could be executed by mobile devices. “This could include controlling a UAV via a smartphone, or having map, radio, and GPS capabilities all in one small pocket-sized device.” Hear that, al-Qaeda? These dudes might be flying a drone with an iPhone! Of course, this makes me feel bad since all I do with my iPhone is browse icanhazcheezburger.com.
  • Mobile analytics could enable big data analysis of semi and unstructured data from sensors throughout the battlespace for rapid analysis of threat information. Given DARPA‘s interest in progressively more advanced sensors–particularly in urban settings–big data is likely to be of interest to tactical military users.
  • Mobile infrastructure in many civilian cloud products emphasizes the ability to make small devices mobile units of infrastructure that could be potentially deployed into austere environments for SOF. “Adding cloud computing functionality to these portable data centers simply means that more consumers can access the cloud resources when they need them, and therefore support more computing needs with fewer physical resource.”
  • Last, but not least, the tactical app store. While you have Angry Birds, SOF could use a set of applications to mission-tailor to wildly differing environments. This is a growth area not just for SOF, but for the whole military.

Marks concludes by pointing out that ad-hoc grids could provide computing power on the go for SOF users.”If a grid of linked computers can discover one another, connect, pool their resources, and allow sharing of computation to address spikes in demand for computational capacity in tactical situations.” Of course, bandwidth requirements, latency, and intermittent connections will pose problems for realizing this vision. But that wouldn’t stop Chuck Norris, and it ultimately isn’t likely to be much of an obstacle for the joint special operations community’s agile technologists.

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