The commanding officer of the USS Arleigh Burke observes operations in the combat information center.

The commanding officer of the USS Arleigh Burke observes operations in the combat information center. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Carlos M. Vazquez II/Released

The Navy Wants a Tactical Cloud

The Office of Naval Research says the cloud infrastructure will exist at the 'tactical edge' of Navy and Marine forces, not ashore. By Bob Brewin

The Office of Naval Research wants to harness the power of cloud computing and bring big data fusion capabilities to the warfighting environment.

Last month, the office kicked off a five-year, $12.3 million project for a Navy tactical cloud, a project which could be performed by up to six research organizations.

ONR said the cloud infrastructure will exist at the “tactical edge” of Navy and Marine Forces and not ashore.  The Broad Agency Announcement emphasized that research should be focused on “Naval Data Science, analytics and decision tool development and not on the development and underlying big data and cloud infrastructure.”

ONR added it wants “to develop the capabilities that will enable the Naval Tactical Cloud to be relevant to the planning and conduct of expeditionary missions and not develop infrastructure, systems, tools, or middle-ware." 

ONR said it wants to develop applications and widgets that provide enhanced command and control capabilities.

These include the capability to automatically assimilate data from multiple sensor networks to support real-time mission planning and the development of information visualization and replication capabilities.

ONR has already developed a big data cloud environment, which it calls the Naval Tactical Cloud Reference Implementation model. It consists of a utility computing environment from Cloudera and data analysis tools and software, including Apache Hadoop and Accumolo MapReduce, developed by Google and Content Zone for data storage.

To ensure integration, ONR said it will furnish all researchers working on the cloud project with the reference model and a developer package provided as a set of virtual machines.

Research conducted under the new project will focus on the use of the cloud to support Marine Corps amphibious operations, including supporting Navy ships and Marine special operations forces.

The Navy’s $2.5 billion Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services, or CANES, project will serve as the key hardware component of the tactical cloud, according to ONR documents.

Capt. William “Ben” McNeal, Navy’s tactical networks program manager,told reporters at an Aug. 21 press briefing he expects CANES to operate in the cloud by 2018. 

Rear Adm. Christian Becker, Navy’s program executive officer for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence said at the briefing, “Today, our command and control warfighting system rides on its own hardware. In the future, our next-generation command and control warfighting capability will bring no hardware to the ship. It will ride on … CANES."