Defence Cloud is a hot topic.
In the information age, defence organisations are crying out for a solution that will help them safely (and securely) modernise their application portfolio. However, unable to find a credible and accredited solution, they’re stuck working with what they have.
Defence organisations would like to consider the cloud as an option, however, at first glance, the cloud doesn’t appear relevant to their specific needs. And whilst it might play an intermediary role for non-critical applications, it’s easy to see why the cloud isn’t considered a core component to most defence organisation’s wider IT strategy. Sure, 94% of private sector businesses say security was improved after implementing cloud-based solutions but defence needs critical assurance.
Data cannot be compromised; corners cannot be cut; lives depend on it.
And we get that. So, how on earth can the cloud be secure enough to protect their data, and host above-OFFICIAL workloads?
Well, the cloud is more secure than you think. Don’t believe us? Then here are 4 reasons the cloud is ready to cater to defence:
1. Cloud is Defence-Ready
The idea that assurance is synonymous with geographical location or tangibility, almost insinuates that the cloud could only be secure enough to support defence workloads if buried 1000 feet underground, surrounded by thick concrete and guarded by a tank.
The reality is that data is not tactile, and you don’t need to be watching the flashing lights of a server to keep your data safe. With 90% of Defence and National Security organisations agreeing that their cloud adoption is inhibited by security concerns, now is the time to break past the misconception that cloud cannot handle the security requirements of Defence and National Security, because it can.
The beauty of the cloud is the ability for an adopter to gain access to state-of-the-art facilities with no need to physically invest in hardware or an on-site data centre. This is a positively two-sided coin. By adopting cloud not only will you benefit from state of the art facilities and security measures, but you also get to leave the trenches of risky, volatile and resource-consuming legacy data centres.
However, the real front-line of digital safety with the cloud comes from the diligence, care and security measures put in place by the provider.
These vary, and so too do defence organisations’ requirements. For some, sovereignty is a must, for others it is a bonus. Some workloads require a cloud that can offer the highest levels of assurance, requiring IL5 (SECRET) or above whereas others may only require more modest, but still significant security. Most of the world’s cloud providers do not even consider IL3 (what most would now call OFFICIAL-Sensitive) or above, considering it ‘too niche’ for them to offer. But this does not help those who are crying out for a Defence Cloud solution that caters to their workloads.
Therefore, it is important to speak to the right vendor who understands your specific needs.
This extends to ensuring that the cloud provider you choose has the right security measures, processes and protocols in place to ensure downtime is mitigated and data is never compromised. Most cloud providers will possess in-house cybersecurity expertise, including deploying a Security Operations Centre (SOC). Some will utilise a range of specialist cybersecurity software to ensure your data is protected by the latest, leading-edge technology. Some clouds will promote or include the use of Disaster Recovery (DR) to minimise downtime and mitigate service failure. Make sure you choose a cloud that has offers the level of security you desire, without cutting corners.
2. Cloud is a Budget Blessing.
When you want to listen to music, you don’t have to buy each individual song on a CD anymore. Streaming services give you access to whatever you need, and new songs whenever you need it, and you can pay for what you use.
Why can’t your digital solution work that way for you too?
The answer in short is, it can. On-demand scalability means your budget is free of capacity you aren’t using, and when you do need more, it’s there. Day-to-day, the cloud’s pay-as-you-go (PAYG) pricing model can save Defence organisations eye-watering sums of cash that is currently being absorbed by outdated, risky, legacy hardware. But in the long-term, the value of the cloud’s scalability and transformative capabilities means organisations are no longer limited by their outdated solutions.
Many organisations that require higher levels of security will assume they are limited to a private cloud. However, this isn’t true as long as they are using a secure multi-tenant cloud solution. ‘Defence Cloud’ no longer means forking out bucket-loads on an unnecessary private cloud solution. Defence organisations can still enjoy the medicinal benefits of a public cloud solution – provided the necessary provisions have been put in place.
In the Police and Justice Sector, there is a 97% consensus that the cost and affordability of cloud, has hindered wider adoption. Yet, the alternative is to throw money at updating and maintaining legacy data centres. An approach that is often littered with technical debt and as such, opens up a world of evolving security vulnerabilities. In the longer-term, a cloud solution should pay dividends.
The cloud is all about laying the foundations for future benefit, whether that’s operational, or cost-based, the cloud is an investment in the future. In order to build their digital foundations, it is important for organisations to keep their eye’s focussed on its longer-term benefits. The table below is a TCO analysis of a UKCloud Case Study, illustrating the value of cloud in reducing net-cost in the long term:
3. Cloud is Flexible
The cloud is a blank canvas, a chance for your organisation to create your own digital strategy, building, moulding, and stretching it along the way. There is an inherent limitlessness with cloud; when you grow it can scale with you; when you move it moves with you.
It makes sense that a digital solution for defence should be inherently flexible. Whereas legacy data centres are only flexible if you have deep pockets, the right cloud can be flexible in a number of ways – the typical example is that you can scale digital environments up and down as required. Meaning experimentation and proof-of-concepts can be deployed with minimal committed spend, and can be shelved if needed.
Another way the cloud can be flexible is in terms of the technology itself. Bespoking certain elements to suit an organisations more niche requirements. This could be something as simple as having small-scale hosting capability for encryption devices, or something more fundamental such as a virtual feature that needs to be deployed for your specific use-case. Many cloud providers major heavily in the former, but don’t necessarily have the ability to accommodate the latter. So, it is important to find a cloud provider who can work with you to understand the flexibility your solution needs and to flex with your requirements.
So, with Defence Cloud, what expectations can you have?
You can expect a solution that can scale when you grow. Day-to-day expansion, old lift-and-shift, new cloud technologies or visionary cloud-native plans. Whatever your next move, the cloud is there with you. You should also expect secure remote access of all your workloads. Defence organisations require mobile solutions: the cloud comes with you, securely, wherever you are, whenever you need it.
4. (Multi)-Cloud Gives You Choice
No one strategy fits every purpose.
Especially for defence organisations who need to stay ahead of the game. In order to progress, to transform, to combat new threats and to work in evolving environments, a digital solution needs to provide the necessary options to help choose a path for your journey.
Enter Multi-Cloud, in an isolated, above-official platform.
Mix and match cloud technologies and security domains to create a perfect cloud strategy. Move virtualised applications to a legacy hosting platform, such as VMware, and take advantage of a wider cloud-native features utilising technologies such as OpenStack or Azure.
Further, enable end-users to access these services through Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). You can then span these technologies across multiple security domains using cross-domain technology to secure and control the transfer of data. You see, multi-cloud is all about choice. Allowing defence organisations to up their versatility game and be free from the shackles of legacy.
Multi-cloud also has the benefit of mitigating single-vendor lock in; not having to put square pegs in round holes and be tethered to a single provider. With 74% of public-sector organisations expressing vendor lock-in as a concern, you know that with a multi-cloud solution in place, you are in the driving seat, not your provider.
Defence Cloud is a Reality.
Addressing digitalisation problems in defence is a challenge, one which UKCloudX and other cloud providers are always looking more closely at. Realising that Defence Cloud does exist is the first hurdle, but there’s still a race to be run. Defence organisations need not be hesitant, but should simply be thorough in exploring the value of the cloud for them, and how the cloud can be the most effective home for critical workloads.
But the message is simple, the wait for Defence Cloud is over.
UKCloudX exists to be that solution. Connected to the MoD, directly and via industry, with the ability to host above-OFFICIAL (up to IL5) workloads. UKCloudX has helped numerous Defence organisations modernise legacy systems, so why wait for something that already exists?