IT Intelligence Bulletin (HG Insights) — Microsoft and Thales have announced the signing of a preferred partnership for the development of a cloud system for armed forces.
This modular solution will allow armed forces to keep their sensitive data inside their own infrastructures.
Armed forces across the world are investing heavily in digital transformation, especially in the digitalization of their command and control and battlefield communications systems, with the development of collaborative combat. Equipment now in development results from the adoption of digital technology in the defence domain, but it also benefits from the emergence of dual civil military platforms, which can interconnect battlefield systems with digital networks residing outside the tactical environment.
In this spirit, following the recent launch of its Nexium Defence Cloud, highly secluded private cloud infrastructure system, Thales becomes Microsoft’s preferred partner in the development of a cloud technology specialized for demanding customers. Together the two groups will become the first to offer a complementary solution adapted to the differing needs of armed forces from national command centres down to individual theatres of operations, with no compromise on security.
To accomplish this, Microsoft Azure Stack which is delivered as an integrated system will be used as the baseline system, into which Thales will integrate its connectivity and end-to-end cybersecurity and encryption solutions. This will handle the most sensitive data, whilst keeping it hosted at Ministry of Defence headquarters or deployed in the field. The resulting system will couple the cloud computing power and functionalities of Azure Stack with Thales’s resilient and robust cybersecurity functionalities, necessary to guarantee the security of all data deemed sensitive and classified by armed forces while reinforcing interoperability and operational excellence.
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The elegance of combining the Thales and Microsoft solutions, will provide armed forces with a flexible cloud application platform, that goes far beyond the basic functionalities of data storage and management, which secured defence clouds do not currently possess. In future applications developments, Azure Stack, augmented by using Guavus Reflex analytics platform, could give users the ability to analyze big amount of data in real-time for intelligence gathering, to use military IoT applications involving various types of sensors on the field or even to exchange data with mobile applications for augmented soldiers.
The final piece of the puzzle will be delivered by Thales’s expertise as a field integrator. Because of the unique environment this cloud platform will operate in, such as theatres of operations and forward operating bases in remote locations, the platform will need to be configured differently than a commercial system. Each integrated system will require a level of autonomy, and be capable of working “offline” in case of a connection loss due to conditions on the ground. It will also require systems to be portable and be ruggedized and hardened to ensure resilience when deployed in theatre. All these specific configurations and adaptions are at the core of what Thales does in its role as a field integrator and electronics system developer for deployed forces.
This collaborative endeavour will achieve a synergy never before obtained. Armed forces will be able to use the size and scope of Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform whilst maintaining a robust and secured cloud for the classified material they need to accomplish their national defence mission, thus achieving maximum flexibility with maximum security.
“We are thrilled to announce our unique partnership with Thales to accelerate digital transformation in the defense sector. Our solution, Microsoft Azure Stack will help armed forces in the analysis of huge volumes of sensitive data in order to make break through developments. Together with Thales, we will be able to provide a flexible cloud platform with an unequalled level of security that will help overcome challenges within the defense industry”, Jean-Philippe Courtois, Executive Vice President and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations, Microsoft.
“This preferred partnership reflects the shared spirit and passion for breakthrough technologies between our two groups and our teams. We are glad to reinforce our strong relationship with Microsoft through this new venture. Together, we will shape this new technological construct perfectly suited to support the evolving security needs of modern armed forces as they accelerate their digital transformation”, Philippe Keryer, Executive Vice-President, Strategy, Research and Technology, Thales.
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