Tactical edge cloud computing: Enhancing military battlefield efficiency

Tactical edge cloud computing: Enhancing military battlefield efficiency

Tactical edge cloud computing refers to a distributed computing paradigm that extends cloud computing capabilities to the “edge” of a network, typically in remote or challenging environments where traditional cloud services may not be readily available or practical.

The “edge” in this context refers to devices, sensors, and computing resources that are closer to the data source or end-users, as opposed to centralized data centers or remote cloud servers.

Some key characteristics and concepts associated with tactical edge cloud computing include proximity to the data sources as tactical edge cloud computing aims to process data as close as possible to where it is generated, reducing latency and enabling real-time or near-real-time applications. This is especially important in scenarios such as military operations, disaster response, industrial automation, and IoT (Internet of Things) deployments.

Another is resource constraints where edge devices are often resource-constrained, meaning they may have limited processing power, memory, and storage. Tactical edge cloud solutions must be designed to operate efficiently within these constraints.

Speaking exclusively to EdgeIR, Boris Bialek, field CTO for industries at MongoDB, says: “Advancements in edge computing offer opportunities to deploy distributed applications to reach end users where they are, this often encompasses places that are stable and wired like factory floors using IoT sensors. However intermittent network access can often be a constraint of extending the edge of your network and this is where tactical edge computing comes in.

“It is about having the capability to work with connected, temporarily disconnected or fully disconnected environments while still keeping operational data in sync between edge locations and the cloud. So at the tactical edge, things are more fluid and it is important to make sure that data is continuously collected and stored, so that when connectivity is reestablished, nothing is lost and it can be accessed and used. This can happen in moving emergency vehicles that come in and out of connectivity or in more extreme environments with first responders.”

Intermittent connectivity

In remote or hostile environments, network connectivity can be intermittent or unreliable. Tactical edge cloud systems are designed to work in disconnected or low-bandwidth conditions, allowing them to continue functioning even when the network is not available. Instead of relying solely on centralized data centers, tactical edge cloud systems distributes computing and storage resources across edge devices. This decentralization can improve fault tolerance and scalability.

Additionally, security is a paramount concern in tactical edge computing. Data at the edge often contains sensitive information, and edge devices may be physically vulnerable. Robust security measures are essential to protect data and ensure the integrity of the system. Tactical edge cloud systems often use orchestration mechanisms to manage and allocate computing resources dynamically. This ensures that tasks are executed efficiently and that available resources are used optimally.

Use cases

Overall, tactical edge cloud computing finds applications in various domains, including military operations, disaster response, autonomous vehicles, remote monitoring and control, smart cities, and industrial automation. For example, military units may deploy tactical edge cloud systems to process sensor data and make informed decisions in the field.

The military is harnessing technology to maintain its superiority on the battlefield. One such technology making a profound impact is edge computing. With its ability to process data in real-time at the point of collection, edge computing is revolutionizing military operations in numerous ways.

Where the military is concerned, tactical edge computing is to support operations in remote or hostile areas, allowing for real-time data analysis, decision-making, and communications among soldiers, vehicles, drones, and other assets on the battlefield. Examples can involve deploying ruggedized, mobile edge servers and devices in military vehicles or on the battlefield to process and share critical information, coordinate actions, and enhance situational awareness.

Edge computing also plays a pivotal role in the deployment of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence (AI) in the military. Tanks, drones, and even soldiers can be equipped with edge devices that process data to make split-second decisions. This allows for more effective use of autonomous vehicles, which can navigate complex terrain, identify threats, and even communicate with each other in real-time.

Edge opportunities

While edge computing offers numerous advantages, it also presents challenges such as interoperability, maintenance, and power consumption. As technology continues to advance, the military will need to invest in training and infrastructure to fully harness the potential of edge computing.

Tactical edge cloud computing is a computing paradigm that extends cloud capabilities to the edge of a network, enabling efficient and real-time processing of data in challenging and resource-constrained environments. It’s an important technology for applications that require quick decision-making and low-latency data processing at the point of origin. While both edge computing and tactical edge computing involve processing data closer to its source, the key difference lies in their specific applications and contexts.

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