Former DoD CIO Reflects on Cloud Adoption for Defense Connectivity Now and Into the Future

Defense Connectivity

Reflecting on Defense Connectivity’s Progress in 2021

The year 2021 was the year of data appreciation for the defense community if you ask Terry Halvorsen. Given data’s crucial role in defense connectivity and decision making in-theater, and the concerted efforts around strengthening it with initiatives like Project Convergence and Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2), Halvorsen makes a strong case.

“Defense leaders understand the true value and importance of connected, secure, actionable data, the power of AI and autonomous systems, and that this type of secure connectivity is today’s most important battlefield advantage,” he stated. Halvorsen is the General Manager for IBM’s Federal Market organization and brings with him three decades of experience with the federal government in senior and influential roles. This includes the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the Department of Defense (DoD) and CIO for the Navy, providing him a unique perspective on technological progress in defense.

Embracing Data Fabric In-Theater

While the cruciality of data across the battlespace isn’t up for debate, there is much room for improvement as to how it’s harnessed and protected, according to Halvorsen. Between collecting, sorting, organizing, and creating intelligence from current data and integrating new data from the growing number of sensors in-theater, defense leaders have their work cut out for them. Those challenges are compounded by a lack of data fabric architecture and a growing skills gap in the workforce to accommodate these data management needs, Halvorsen explained.

However, this presents a modernization opportunity for defense. By adopting a data fabric and security architecture that enables data integration, accessibility, processability, and computing at the edge, the application of artificial intelligence (AI) can continue to move beyond the “pilot phase,” as Halvorsen puts it.

“We’re still working together, however, to increase the scale of artificial intelligence (AI) deployment in a budget conscious way,” he said. “There’s also the human element of AI and understanding where automated decisions stop, and human interventions begin.”

Powering Data Fabric Adoption for Defense

As we move into 2022 and beyond, Halverson predicts that defense leadership will lean more heavily on a data fabric architecture with the help of a hybrid cloud or multi-cloud approach. With more agile and accessible data, warfighters will be able to capture, analyze, and apply data-driven insights to their decision making in the field.

That said, to support the adoption of this approach, Halvorsen noted that continued refinement of the secure hybrid cloud or multi-cloud architecture is imperative. “This will enable the deployment of a data fabric architecture, while also being open and flexible enough for the future,” he remarked.

Halverson emphasized the importance of investing in this cloud infrastructure, along with AI and edge computing to continue propelling defense connectivity forward. And for these reasons, he anticipates that 2022 will be the year of hybrid cloud, multi-cloud and AI for defense.

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