NATO embraces cloud computing

Cloud technology saves money but requires political and intelligence risks.

From Teri Schultz, Deutsche Welle:  Cloud computing is a booming sector – a recent report from Gartner, an industry analysis firm, said that it would be worth almost 110 billion euros ($150 billion) by 2014.

And now, NATO has decided to join the party.

The decades-old military alliance announced at the end of last year that it had decided to work with IBM to start testing command-and-control functions in a custom cloud environment. …

The NATO group tasked with assessing new operational concepts, Allied Command Transformation or ACT, is working with IBM to start testing the use of a private cloud for functions including command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

"We’re investigating how command-and-control can be used and what benefits it would bring," said Johan Goossens, the head of ACT’s Technology Branch in Norfolk, Virginia, in the US.

"If you look at the NATO business model, which tends to be fairly distributed, pretty global operation, where we have lots of activities in lots of places, the notion of consolidation is important in these bad economic times. So command-and-control started to appeal to us for a number of reasons."

Most computer experts both in and outside of the alliance cite cloud computing’s ability to perform complex computing tasks cheaply to be the main draw.

This is especially attractive with 28 different member states – and their 28 different computer networks plus that of NATO’s itself – which need at least some degree of interoperability on a daily basis, and in the battlefield of Afghanistan, for example, the number of interacting countries rises to more than 40.  (photo:

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