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COVID-19 has forced defense and intelligence agencies to vastly increase the use of remote work. One great example is the Pentagon, the largest employer in the United States. It enabled one million people to work remotely since the start of the pandemic.

As part of its rapid response, the Pentagon created a service it calls the Commercial Virtual Remote Environment (CVR), a platform with Microsoft Teams collaboration tools and other Office 365 products that give employees essential telework tools such as chat, video conferencing, and document sharing. The Pentagon designed and deployed CVR in just one month.

Beyond CVR, broader adoption of commercial cloud-based audio/video and data-sharing conferencing tools allow service personnel to collaborate in a secure, flexible work environment. They can access cloud data and analytics across multiple devices and locations, whether they’re using a rugged device in a remote location or accessing enterprise-scale systems on base. This way personnel have the right information at the right time across operational environments

While collaboration tools may be at the forefront in the new age of remote work, Microsoft is helping Defense and Intelligence agencies focus on four key areas:

  1. Modernizing facilities and installations. Militaries, agencies, and defense system integrators want to securely meet the work needs of service members and employees. This means ensuring staff have the right information at the right time in almost any operational environment while creating safer, connected, sustainable, and scalable installations with cloud services. It also includes utilizing digital tools to enhance services and enabling real-time data insights that drive predictive analytics and preventative maintenance. At the same time, IoT and other digital capabilities can be used to modernize and create efficiencies with buildings, ranges, and other facilities.
  2. Delivering trusted and secure infrastructure and services. Agency leaders also need to secure critical data and modernize legacy systems through a hyper-scale cloud. A great example of this is Microsoft’s work with Airbus. Governed by strict regulations and compliance factors due to its work with organizations such as NATO, Airbus turned to Microsoft to help build its restricted cloud while maintaining compliance with data-sovereignty regulations. Similarly, many U.S. agencies want to manage data at all security classifications to ensure national security compliance, while leveraging a public cloud and end-to-end cloud solutions for unclassified and lower-classified workloads. Finally, there is interest in deploying the latest in 5G and space innovations and shaping operations strategy in real-time with the intelligent edge.
  3. Protecting the information domain and growing cyber-force capabilities. One critical concern for defense and intelligence leaders is how to protect defense and intelligence workspaces, data, and applications from cyber threats. They need to defend the integrity of mission logistics against advanced threats by utilizing Zero Trust Architecture while ensuring that sensitive data and defense-related technology does not get into the wrong hands. Finally, they are concerned with developing cyber force competencies with immersive and gamified cyber training and ranges, assessing cybersecurity postures, and delivering solutions and services to enhance cybersecurity capabilities.
  4. Optimizing operations and enhancing data-driven decisions. Leaders are focused on how data and AI can better support national security objectives. This means providing communications and data analytics to forward-deployed forces. It also means sharing critical information across military services and multi-national coalitions to enhance situational awareness. Achieving this will require new kinds of remote training and readiness with cloud-collaboration tools and combining synthetic environments with data and analytics to model and predict future force requirements. Finally, leaders are concerned with enhancing command and control operations within an agile, data-driven ecosystem. They want to utilize data visualization, secure communications, cognitive services, and data analytics to improve mission-critical decision making.

Microsoft is well-positioned to help defense and intelligence agencies tackle these problems. We offer industry-leading compliance with AI-based, cloud-native, and end-to-end security solutions. We also offer comprehensive hybrid cloud solutions from HQ to the tactical edge, enabled by the largest and most mature cloud partner ecosystem in the market. Our work with defense and intelligence agencies is based on trust, expertise, and our extensive cloud partner ecosystem.

In the wake of COVID-19, defense and intelligence organizations face rapidly changing situations and new requirements while keeping service personnel, staff, and families safe. It’s about modernizing military workplaces, facilities, and installations, delivering trusted and secure infrastructure and services, and protecting the information domain and growing cyber force capabilities. Today there are many opportunities to optimize operations and enhance data-driven decisions by leveraging AI and the commercial cloud. You can learn more in this white paper by Frost and Sullivan, Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computing for Defense and Intelligence.