The Ministry of Defense’s IT systems are “too fragmented, fragile, insecure and obsolescent” and its operators are “tainted with age -old processes in industry and culture,” according to a new digital strategy document.
Published earlier this week, the Digital Strategy for Defense paper is full of the usual MoD speaking of management while never mentioning the word “budget”, raising immediate questions about how to pay for the latest glitzy vision of the future.
The latest output of the boutique approach replaced two separate digital approaches and doctrinal publications issued in late 2019, and defense procurement minister Jeremy Quin MP said the “bewildering rate” at which digital technology elevates the tough former Minister of Defense.
“This Digital Strategy outlines the step-change strategy required for Defense to utilize Digital and our Data, as key enablers, to facilitate faster, better decisions and improved Defense outcomes , “explosion of the paper’s introduction, under the optimistic heading of“ aspiration ”.
Large government IT has long been a playful for ambitious managers looking to make a name for themselves in the direction of the slippery pole.
The authors of the document stated that “the core of MoD technology is too fragmented, fragile, insecure and obsolete” for modern use, with data locked within “internal and contractual loop ”that makes it“ difficult to access and integrate ”.
Responsible to the MoD the new National Cyber Force and Britain’s growing space agency, an IT refresh is probably no bad thing.
“The current lack of end to end visibility, poor awareness of what is in place and an inability to apply controls present a huge risk and not an acceptable position. We are compromised about security, operational integrity, functionality and speed. “
Leading the various new marvelous Objects of the Future is the creation of a Digital Backbone, described as cloud-based and embodying “common standards and architecture”.
The authors of the paper appear to understand the scale of the challenge they set themselves, writing: “The main technical building blocks are the networks, gateways, hosting services, interfaces users (including identity management and access mechanisms) and middleware integrated to deliver data and information wherever and however we need to take advantage of it ”.
Despite the apparent state of the MoD’s internal networks, however, there is a great big elephant in the room: who will pay for it? Funding all the flashy got to the headline cyber thing has torn a hole in the ministry for the next decade, according to the National Audit Office earlier this year. Meanwhile, the Army has wasted billions trying and failing to buy new armored vehicles, while the Navy absorbed more billions for two new aircraft and supporting ships.
Significantly, the new Digital Strategy for Defense document does not once mention the word “budget”-but says the MoD will treat the data as “mineral ore that strengthens integration and enables a system-of -system “. This mineral is mined by a Digital Foundry (er, are you sure they meant to say this? Ed.) which “will unleash the power of Data Defense,” presumably by adding random capital letters to nouns.
Less prosaically, the MoD’s digital strategy counts the individual services that will pay for it all by [TLB] equipment programs. “Whether top commanders are willing to transfer funds from pet projects to a central IT system remains to be seen.
Whatever the outcome of the document full of jargon, it makes the transition from “data is the new oil” and hackneyed the old marketing spiel about data lakes. The whole thing can be read on the MoD website as a 41-page PDF. ®
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