June 4, 2019 By King
NEW DELHI: The army is looking to expand its cloud computing network for storing and sharing operational and personnel information such as deployments, movement of formations and health and service records, according to officials.
Expansion of the cloud network will be carried out under the ‘network for spectrum’ project, they said, adding that the development is part of the army’s move to build its automation capabilities.
The army cloud with a central data centre was launched in November 2015. It followed a pact between the defence ministry and Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in 2009-10 under which the former agreed to vacate 25 MHz of 3G and 20 MHz of 2G spectrum, while DoT committed to set up an exclusive defence communication network.
According to the officials cited earlier, existing applications are being improved for storing and sharing data on operations and soldiers over the army cloud. “The Operational Information System (OIS) and Management Information System (MIS for data of soldiers) are the two broad heads for developing applications for managing information,” explained an official. “While OIS and MIS are there, improvement will keep happening in it. There is a capability development matrix and within that we will keep adding technology to update the army cloud and the relevant applications.”
At present the army doesn’t have enough bandwidth to upload heavy data such as videos. But under the NFS project, it is expected to get adequate bandwidth so that even ground formations, which are in most need of automation, can make use of it.
According to the officials, decision on what kind of data can be stored on cloud servers and what must remain on hard files will depend on the level of perceived threat.
The army doesn’t store confidential data, including that on terrain, operations, deployments, movement of units, exercises and plans because of threat of hacking and viruses, but the officials said that unclassified data such as ranks and names of soldiers can be stored on cloud servers.
All this is cloud computing which is sharing and storing of information and software via a network, usually the internet. The information is stored in data centres.
The army is also planning to expand its data centres for the cloud computing network. Officials said work has started at the new locations of the data centres, which remain classified. It also involves securing them from physical and cyberspace attacks.
There will also be further integration of the different army directorates that are working on improving the cloud computing network. Their tasks such as improving the network setup for the cloud to work, deciding on what kind of application needs to be made for a particular formation, and planning on adding technologies to upgrade the cloud system will see an uplift.
Another move in the army’s automation plan is developing a new online system for officers to check their service records. A website named OASIS (Officers Automated and Structured Information System) has been developed and is likely to be launched on the army intranet this month. “It will be to facilitate serving officers to view service and other records online and raise their grievances with MP 5&6 (directorate under the army’s Adjutant General (AG) branch),” said an official, adding that such things are currently on hard files.