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Monday, November 10, 2008

Valiant Angel - A Perfect PED Application for Cloud Computing

A few weeks ago in an article title "Why the Cloud? Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination", I described two instances where the newspaper industry used cloud computing in order to process, exploit and disseminate information. In that article I postulated that this is one reason why the intelligence community is interested in cloud computing.

Well Signal Magazine has recently highlighted a specific program where the DoD could use a similar approach. In a project called Valiant Angel, the Joint Intelligence Laboratory, located at the U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia, is working on a way for commanders to handle massive amounts of full-motion video being provided from unmanned platforms.

In addition to storing, moving, communicating and accessing large amounts of data, Valiant Angel is also addressing full-motion video processing, exploitation and dissemination (PED). Col. Chuck Mehle II, USA, commander of the Joint Transformation Command for Intelligence (JTC-I), JFCOM, notes that this aspect of full-motion video management is important because currently different people have different meanings for PED.

“For some, PED might be sticking yellow stickies on a screen after the event happens, and then taking notes about it as the video is displayed to them. But Valiant Angel gives them the capability—the John Madden-type capability—to drop the icon onto that video frame. Let’s say there is an event such as an IED [improvised explosive device] placement or an IED detonation or defusing. Immediately across the Defense Department, intelligence enterprise alerts will go out to those people who subscribe to that type of event, that geographic region, that timeframe, you name it,” he explains.

Such a requirement is perfect for cloud computing. An ability to meet surge storage and computing requirements by securely scaling into a on-demand cloud computing infrastructure could actually make projects like Valiant Angel affordable. Since it would be costly and impractical to buy the equipment needed to meet all possible tactical situations, a platform with an inherent ability to expand into a commercially provided cloud infrastructure could be ideal. It's very difficult to predict real-time tactical processing, exploitation and dissemination requirements. Cloud computing approaches could definitely provide a better option.