Microsoft Set To Put Cloud In a Tank

Tank shooting wifi cloud

Posted on Friday, June 15, 2018

Just days after launching their first undersea data center, Microsoft has unveiled another storage innovation that is sure to raise eyebrows. The as-yet-unnamed project will see their Azure Stack cloud-in-a-box platform being adapted for use by military forces, including the US Army.

Secure and mobile

This specialized version of Azure will have two major benefits. First, the platform will be hardened to offer enhanced security – vital for in-the-field systems that will be storing and processing operationally sensitive information. 

Second, the Azure Stack system will be configured to run ‘in a box’ to increase portability. Importantly, the new box will offer cloud features for internal development, along with the ability to tap into third-party, or external cloud services when required.

In the age of ubiquitous satellite coverage, connectivity in the theater of operations tends to be reasonable. But by bundling cloud services into a single portable unit, data-driven operations can be performed almost anywhere– including vehicles like tanks.

Non-military applications?

Microsoft and Thales, their defense contractor partner, believe that this combination of secure cloud and portability will make the product popular with military customers, but it’s not hard to see where non-military organizations could also use the technology.

The issue of edge computing in the era of IoT is still very much unresolved, and the proposed solutions tend to rely on technologies that are yet to be released (5G cellular connectivity, for instance). 

By deploying the Azure Stack in near-edge situations, developers may have a way to collect and process huge volumes of IoT data in real time. Automated decisions could be performed at the edge using cloud processing, extraneous data stored (or discarded), and the most important metrics then uploaded to Microsoft Azure proper, or the company’s data center at head office. 

This cloud-at-the-edge approach would immediately overcome many of the bandwidth and latency issues that will dog large-scale IoT deployments for some time to come.

Of course, time will tell whether Microsoft brings Azure in a Tank to the private sector, but as things stand, there is a genuine use case for the technology off the battlefield, too. Curious about your business’s options when it comes to cloud computing & IoT? Contact us today to discuss! 

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