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Enabling defense and intelligence missions with the cloud

Two CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters on the flight deck of USS Bonhomme Richard.

The impact of COVID-19 and the increasingly complex global security environment have made one thing is clear: defense and intelligence agencies must quickly adapt to change. Forces and defense organizations need to make decisions quickly, and data is the lifeblood of every mission.

One aspect of military activity that has remained consistent since ancient times: if you can observe, orient, decide, and act faster than your opponent, you gain an advantage. Today, that advantage is facilitated by data, and the ability to turn information into insights. Modern defense and intelligence agencies need the agility to adjust to rapidly changing situations, the ability to disrupt at speed and scale, and a data-driven posture across all operations and missions.

As an example, the past year has seen a dramatic shift in how military and intelligence teams work, collaborate, and forge new skills. Like their civilian counterparts, our defense customers have seen huge portions of their workforce turn to remote work to keep their people safe and productive. We have also seen accelerated digital transformation initiatives, with many defense and intelligence organizations adopting cloud-first policies and leveraging technology to turn data into actionable insights.

Driving a cloud-enabled defense posture

To help our military and defense partners take advantage of this new landscape, attend this webinar entitled “Driving a cloud-enabled defense posture.” This webinar includes discussions with distinguished speakers from the defense and intelligence community, including:

Digital tools for a changing workplace

There are several examples in the defense and intelligence community that show how our customers are adapting to this changing global landscape. In the spring of 2020, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) rapidly configured and deployed a remote work environment serving millions of defense workers. Based on Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Office 365, the Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) environment was up and running in less than a month, and now helps 4 million defense employees collaborate and communicate via video, email, chat, virtual workspaces, and more, every single day. And the U.S. DoD set new deployment speed records in the process.

Born of necessity, CVR has proven so successful that the DoD decided it is not turning back. Remote, cloud-based work and collaboration are here to stay. That is a huge shift and a big leap forward for national security workers.

We are seeing the same push in Australia, where the Australian Department of Defence created a virtual work environment—also based on Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Office 365—in less than 11 weeks. Called the Virtual Environment for Remote Access (VERA), the system helped the Australian DoD move from 2,000 remote workers per day to 20,000. And like in the U.S., this capability is now a core mission enabler that is here to stay.

Security is paramount

We understand that defense and intelligence customers place a high value on security. And security is a huge part of the value proposition of the cloud. Microsoft makes industry-leading commitments to security, identity, and compliance, with more than $1B USD invested annually. We make these investments to help our customers stay ahead of the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape. If a threat or vulnerability is detected, our 3,500 security experts develop and deploy the update at scale and in only a fraction of the time it would take to secure hundreds of on-premises servers.

In addition to agility and security, the cloud gives defense and intelligence organizations the ability to harness the enormous amounts of data produced by today’s systems, platforms, networks, and a vast array of sensors. Military aircraft, for instance, carry sophisticated sensor arrays that can generate more than 1 terabyte of data per mission. Collecting, analyzing, and acting on this deluge of data requires continued advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and high-performance compute—all of which are enabled and supported by cloud technology. Improving data management and analysis methods enhances the ability of defense and intelligence organizations to maintain an advantage in an era of great power competition and enables decision-makers to harness data and capitalize on strategic and tactical opportunities made available through deeper-level insights.

Improved mission planning, training, and operations

Digital technology is also transforming mission planning and training capabilities, as synthetics and increasingly sophisticated simulators immerse defense forces in environments virtually identical to (and in some cases, the digital twin of) the real world. Microsoft has more than 40 years of experience in the gaming industry and the largest collection of digital studios anywhere on the planet. One example of how we put that expertise to work is by helping NASA and Lockheed Martin build the Orion spacecraft with the assistance of HoloLens 2.

In addition earlier this month, the United States Army announced that it will work with Microsoft on the production phase of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program. The IVAS headset, based on HoloLens and augmented by Microsoft Azure cloud services, delivers an integrated situational awareness heads-up display that provides critical information and planning capabilities for soldiers in the field.

Moreover, we have announced new capabilities to help our customers modernize mission systems and achieve greater agility through modern, secure software development methods and tools. These are part of a larger unified development, security, and operations (DevSecOps) initiative designed to massively accelerate innovation and speed-to-field, including speeding up the application Authority to Operate (ATO) process, so customers can rapidly deliver new capabilities into the hands of their forces, operators, and analysts who need them.

Digital transformation helps defense and intelligence forces harness the intersection of people, data, and technology to create an advantage in an incredibly complex global security environment. We hope you attend our webinar to learn more about how technology is transforming defense and intelligence operations worldwide—and how you can be a part of it.

Get more information on Microsoft’s work with defense and intelligence agencies.