Control A Submarine From Cloud? DARPA's On It

Agency seeks "revolutionary" ways to use cloud computing to power embedded military applications.
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The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking a way to use cloud computing to power embedded military applications that so far have not been able to take advantage of the technology.

The Microsystems Technology Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has released a request for information on what it is calling "military critical clouds."

The agency, which engages in technology research for the DOD, is looking for innovative ways to use the cloud to execute applications "when the applications are minimally specific to the particular resources in use," according to the posted on

"To date, the cloud computing paradigm has not been effectively exploited in embedded military applications, for reasons related to performance and correctness constraints," DARPA said in its solicitation, adding that it's seeking "revolutionary" ideas to overcome those historical constraints.

Embedded applications the agency wants to use the cloud for include applications for command and control of a submarine, in-field data or analysis apps, and image-data processing systems that unmanned aerial vehicles use on board, according to the solicitation.

DARPA hopes to obtain the usual benefits of cloud computing by using it in this way, including cost-efficiency, reliability, security, maintainability, and performance.

It also hopes to achieve more manufacturing agility through the use of the cloud, cutting down on the time to design, implement and deploy embedded systems, according to the solicitation.

DARPA is interested in information about solutions with "high payoff and potentially high risk" that can be put into practice after three to five years of "intensive" research and development, it said.

Those interested in responding to the solicitation have until Sept. 22.

The DOD already is leveraging the cloud, but so far its use is fairly typical of early deployments of the technology. The U.S. Army, for example, is currently working to consolidate a host of disparate email systems to a private cloud hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Indeed, email is one of the first applications federal agencies have moved to the cloud, with the General Services Administration being the first to complete its email cloud migration last month.

What industry can teach government about IT innovation and efficiency. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Government: Federal agencies have to shift from annual IT security assessments to continuous monitoring of their risks. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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