"a phenomenon that currently has

as many definitions as there are squares on a chess-board"

The first confirmed reference to what might be called modern cloud computing was in a Compaq internal document in 1996, but the term did not enter the popular lexicon until a decade later, when Amazon.com introduced the Elastic Compute Cloud.

Integrating traditional IT services into cloud computing is one of the biggest challenges facing cloud users Two predecessor elements that eventually coalesced into cloud computing were online data storage-as opposed to backup services-and applications that run online rather than being installed on the user's computer, allowing them to be constantly updated and tweaked, behind the scenes.

With applications running online, the user's computer, operating system, RAM, or onboard hard drive are not significant factors, and the programs typically run faster. In addition, with the right access codes, they could be used from almost any computer anywhere in the world.

Cloud computing combines those online services, giving applications faster access to data, including multiple users sharing both simultaneously. Despite wide interest and implementation, however, when Cloud Computing Journal polled 25 global experts for their definitions, they got as many different responses, ranging from "elasticity" to "internet centric software" and including:

• realizing the earlier ideals of utility computing without the technical complexities or complicated deployment worries;

• using the Internet to enable people to access technology-enabled services must be massively scalable to qualify as true cloud computing;

• leveraging web-scale infrastructure (application and physical) in an on-demand way;

• shifting the infrastructural paradigm that enables the ascension of SaaS [software as a service];

• vast resource pools with on- demand resource allocation; and

• the user-friendly version of grid computing.

Privacy and security

That is true for anyone concerned about privacy or security.

"The one big [enabler] that has really accelerated the deployment of the cloud is the virtual desktop, which allows to put the pixels on the screen and use the mouse and keyboard controls to reach back to the cloud without even knowing the computer is no longer on the desk. As soon as it will be demonstrated and proved that could be used for some really high-end applications, it completely changed the way people saw intel analysis, for example".

"A lot of what the near-term things are looking at include new analytics and ways to exploit all the data we have, using the infrastructure for activity-based intel". "The cloud provides a different way to organize what is known and the relationships between things that are changing or developing in real time. Our guys are looking at immersive environments on how to recognize the data more quickly as it evolves. A lot of that is really applying existing technologies in new ways, so we don't yet know what we will be able to do."

Levels of security

"The state-of-the-art changes quickly".

Cloud computing security and reliability, however, remain concerns. "The reality is that no network is 100 percent reliable and no network will ever be completely secure". In other words, how to maintain operations when the communications network goes down and how to continue operations when-not 'if'-somebody hacks into the network infrastructure and cloud services.

Where we're at right now is very similar to an Amazon cloud server-it's privately held by customers in their own data centers and they are actively migrating users and data out to those clouds. The commercial world jumped onto this sooner and helped build it out.


As cloud computing evolves and becomes a standard part of aerospace and energy  operations, it also will become more hardware-agnostic. Increasing numbers of new technologies will be classified as "services" and software-with essentially unlimited resources in a "highly abstracted space"-will grow larger and more complex as programs are written to take advantage of the scales available. That also is expected to put an emphasis on modular software in which individual components will be modified without forcing a shutdown of the entire program.

One of the main challenges by 2020 will be the management of federated services, not only because applications will be based in the cloud, but also because several clouds will link to each other and to on-premise applications.

Essential networking

"If we have tons of different applications on different types of networks without a common framework or architecture, we're not going to be able to figure out… what the anomalies are. All those disparate actions… provide gaps, seams and voids that are exploited by the bad guy every second of every day.

Flexible resources

A key advantage of cloud computing is the ability to shrink or expand resources, on-the-fly, to meet real-time needs.

Cloud encryption

"Encryption technologies are getting better, and giving users greater confidence in cloud computing. The profusion of small, affordable sensors-from oil diagnostics in an MRAP to electro-optical sensing on a UAV-are not strictly an enabler, but they make cloud computing much more attractive. All those sensors create much more data across a wide range and run better and faster analytics in the cloud, which is much better than the traditional techniques of mining individual data on servers, then trying to combine it".

"If you have different platforms and systems within them coming from different contractors, it can be difficult to get the data needed. There have been cases where a platform cannot access some data from its own sensors-it first has to be dealt with by the contractors that built them". "Users should be able to access their own data in a comprehensive way to make sense of it. Although it is not a requirement, you start to enable collaboration, data-sharing not only among geographically dispersed organizations but also between organizations within the same service that currently are not talking to each other."

"Maintenance people can walk around with iPads instead of laptops and have access to more data and analytics without needing to key in an asset number; he can just stand next to the item and the system will know what it is and provide the needed data”.

Integrating IT services

The most difficult part of moving to the cloud is the infrastructure-integrating and operating classical information technology infrastructure services [ITIS].

"It's all about getting pre-architected infrastructure-full scalability, the system is elastic, requires less power, is smaller and more powerful, fully virtualized, abstracted from the hardware,"

"It's all about supporting the battle rhythm and ensuring the data is well integrated," he says. "The cloud simply provides a more integrated way to accomplish. Conversion of infrastructure is key now, because it allows virtualization-storage, computing, even the network-of the entire system, including the configuration. Cloud management software is much more integrated and management is becoming easier, with self-service and automation becoming much more integrated". Moves toward cloud computing, essentially playing catch-up with the large commercial trailblazers, users and providers are considering what capabilities can and should be part of future evolutions.

Those include encryption on the fly of all data and processes, at all levels; being able to provide services across the entire span of communications; meeting higher security restrictions; combining encryption at all levels with context-aware identity and access management, specific to the environment, from tactical to sensitive financial operations in commercial banking to interoperability industrial operations.

"Cloud computing is definitely of high interest”

Right now Commercial Developments and R&D are driving the technologies