The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is aiming to build its cloud capability through procurement from the hyperscale providers and aims to have a full capability in place by the end of 2024.
It has outlined the plan in its new Cloud Strategic Roadmap for Defence, which also emphasises the importance of its plan for a Digital Backbone ecosystem as part of its Digital Strategy for Defence.
Writing in the policy paper’s foreword, MoD chief information officer Charlie Forte says: “A critical component of our Digital Backbone is hyperscale cloud capabilities across all classifications. Our roadmap sets out our explicit intent to coordinate and accelerate the most ambitious plans for hyperscale cloud adoption across defence.”
The paper says that cloud will provide the foundation for the future digital capability of the defence sector, enabling on-demand services and applications that are easily accessible and rapidly scalable. This will enable users to retrieve and process data quickly for military operations and give business users access to enterprise systems from anywhere.
It will also lay the ground for more self-service and automation, the paper says.
The preference for hyperscalers reflects a belief that they are best placed to support the integration of APIs, machine learning (including natural language processing and image analysis), virtual apps and machines and cloud databases. The paper also cites the availability of tools offered by Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google Cloud Platform.
The target is to be as ‘cloud native’ as possible, focusing on designs using APIs and a preference for software- and platform-as-a-service. There will also be a preference for serverless components over infrastructure-as-a-service, although the latter will be used when required.
To achieve this, MoD aims to form an ecosystem of cloud service providers. It has already begun its industry engagement, and there are plans to award a contract for a hyperscale framework for SECRET classifications in the second half of this year, launch an initial capability in the first half of 2024 and have it all in place by the end of that year.
Underpinning the plan is a group of principles including: using MODCloud solutions – business applications integrated into the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure – before alternatives; re-using common patterns and standards for interoperability; understanding the needs of users; and architecting cloud services to enable self-service and workload portability.
Publication of the roadmap has come as Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has released a critical report on the MoD’s progress with its overall digital strategy. It cites gaps in digital personnel and a failure to fund the strategy as significant problems.