The British Army is considering the use of cloud technology to help modernise its IT use and save money, but data security concerns relating to the sensitivity of its data mean public and hybrid cloud use may not be suitable for its needs.
Brigadier Alan Hill, head of operations and defence for Information Systems and Services at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), said that private cloud use is something that will almost certainly be embraced the organisation.
"I think [cloud] is wide open right now, but we've got to be really clear on the value to us," he said, in response to a question from V3 at Interop 2015 in London.
"Private cloud, we will go for that. We will do defence-as-a-platform which cloud will be [part of]. I've got no doubt about it."
However, Hill explained that cloud adoption becomes more complex for the Army when public and hybrid cloud is considered, as the military's stringent security needs raise concerns about the data when it's introduced into clouds with multiple tenants.
"It's how far you want to go down the public cloud area, and therefore end up with a hybrid solution. And that is a risk/balance case. How much do you want to stick out to save money, bearing in mind your reputation risk if it all disappears?" he said.
"The conundrum at the minute is that we can see [cloud] within our own lines. Private cloud makes common sense, [but] if you want to do hybrid cloud you have to look at the risk involved."
Hill said that adopting hybrid cloud systems throws up problems about security accreditation and whether cloud vendors can provide the assurance that military data will be secure in their public environments.
"There's a set of analysis and understanding to be done against the risk involved," he added. "Can you truly partition [data] in a shared cloud environment at a level of security that is guaranteed?"
Hill explained that the Army is currently in an "understand phase" in which it is monitoring the development of cloud systems and assessing the approaches that would be suitable for the military.
The Army is also looking at how it could work with the cloud in ways that make use of its benefits without compromising sensitive information.
This includes considering the type of information stored in a public cloud, as some seemingly innocuous data could reveal secret military information if combined with other data also stored in a cloud environment.
"That's the nub of the [cloud] at the minute. There's no answer to it. It's much more about trying to understand the way ahead," he concluded.
Cloud is just one of the technology trends that the Army is exploring. Army HQ outlined the military's mobility strategy in its IT operations during V3's Mobility Summit.
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