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Thales and Microsoft to Develop Unique Defence Cloud

AZURE STACK and NEXIUM Capabilities Will Empower Innovation

On 12 June Thales and Microsoft announced they are to partner to develop a unique cloud system for the military, leveraging their respective positions in defence, cybersecurity and cloud productivity.

Armed forces across the world are investing heavily in digital transformation, especially in the digitalisation of their C3 systems, with the development of collaborative combat. Equipment now in development results from the adoption of digital technology in the defence domain, but it also benefits from the emergence of dual civil-military platforms, which can interconnect battlefield systems with digital networks residing outside the tactical environment.

In this spirit, following the recent launch of its NEXIUM Defence Cloud – a highly secluded private cloud infrastructure system – Thales becomes Microsoft’s preferred partner in the development of a cloud technology specialised for demanding customers. Together the two groups will become the first to offer a complementary solution adapted to the differing needs of armed forces from national command centres down to individual theatres of operations, with no compromise on security.  

To accomplish this, Microsoft’s AZURE STACK, which is delivered as an integrated system, will be used as the baseline system into which Thales will integrate its connectivity and end-to-end cybersecurity and encryption solutions. This will handle the most sensitive data, whilst keeping it hosted at national headquarters or deployed in the field. The resulting system will couple the cloud computing power and functionalities of AZURE STACK with Thales’ resilient and robust cybersecurity functionalities, necessary to guarantee the security of all data deemed sensitive and classified by armed forces while reinforcing interoperability and operational excellence.

The elegance of combining the Thales and Microsoft solutions will provide armed forces with a flexible cloud application platform that goes far beyond the basic functionalities of data storage and management, and which secured defence clouds do not currently possess. In future application developments, AZURE STACK, augmented by using the GUAVUS REFLEX analytics platform, could give users the ability to analyse large amounts of data in real-time for intelligence gathering, to use military IoT applications involving various types of sensors in the field or even to exchange data with mobile applications for augmented soldiers.  

The final piece of the puzzle will be delivered by Thales’ expertise as a field integrator. Because of the unique environment this cloud platform will operate in, such as theatres of operations and forward operating bases in remote locations, the platform will need to be configured differently from a commercial system. Each integrated system will require a level of autonomy and to be capable of working offline in case of a connection loss due to conditions on the ground. It will also require systems to be portable, ruggedised and hardened to ensure resilience when deployed in-theatre. All these specific configurations and adaptions are at the core of what Thales does in its role as a field integrator and electronics system developer for deployed forces.

This collaborative endeavour will achieve a synergy never before obtained. Armed forces will be able to use the size and scope of Microsoft’s AZURE cloud platform whilst maintaining a robust and secured cloud for the classified material they need to accomplish their national defence mission, thus achieving maximum flexibility with maximum security.

 “We are thrilled to announce our unique partnership with Thales to accelerate digital transformation in the defence sector. Our solution, Microsoft AZURE STACK will help armed forces in the analysis of huge volumes of sensitive data in order to make break through developments. Together with Thales, we will be able to provide a flexible cloud platform with an unequalled level of security that will help overcome challenges within the defence industry,” commented Microsoft’s Executive Vice President and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations, Microsoft, Jean-Philippe Courtois.

This preferred partnership reflects the shared spirit and passion for breakthrough technologies between our two groups and our teams. We are glad to reinforce our strong relationship with Microsoft through this new venture. Together, we will shape this new technological construct perfectly suited to support the evolving security needs of modern armed forces as they accelerate their digital transformation”, added Thales’ Executive Vice-President, Strategy, Research and Technology.


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