Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance—or ISR—is a foundational component of U.S. defense and intelligence capabilities. ISR systems, ranging in size from hand-held mobile devices to orbiting satellites, acquire and process information needed by national security decision makers and military commanders.
ISR systems collect a horizon of various data, from photographic and signals data which might require extensive analysis to data for specific weapons systems. Tactical ISR systems primarily collect information relevant to the battlefield while National systems collect data which provides value at every level from the White House to the platoon leader and ship Captain. Collectively, ISR systems account for a significant portion of U.S. intelligence spending, especially when the number of required analysts are considered —tens of billions of dollars annually.
ISR has always utilized and been driven by technological change and innovation. That fact is truer than ever today. In an interview with Army Times, Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller speculated that a properly outfitted smart phone might have warned recent Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta of the 2007 ambush that lay in wait for his squad as it patrolled Afghanistan. Our Nation’s experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past ten years are replete with episodes where technology, properly implemented, has protected soldiers and saved lives.
One of the biggest challenges for today’s military is the sheer volume and complexity of that data our ISR systems enable us to collect. Every year there are more platforms and more data types requiring analysis, storage, security and dissemination. The advent of machine to machine data and metadata created to manage other data are perfect examples. In the case of Full Motion Video (FMV), constellation of platforms, each carrying families of state-of-the-art sensors, collect massive amounts of high resolution data around the clock. And every sensor is another node on the network.
Just as the public sector has witnessed the era of Big Data, which Gartner defines as any dataset 20 terabytes or greater, intelligence agencies are struggling to cope with even larger datasets: petabytes of unstructured data. These datasets are so large they overwhelm traditional data management tools. In the past we simply haven’t had analytic tools that could ingest and address these ever increasing datasets. It is essential to understand that agencies need tools with the capacity to analyze huge amounts of data in real time and with the ability to interact seamlessly with analysts if we are going to derive the most value out of what we are able to collect.
Of course, new technologies always raise questions about cost and security. Across the DoD, funding for research, development, testing, and evaluation has fallen about $3.5 billion in the last three years—from $79.6 billion in fiscal 2008 to $76.1 billion in fiscal 2011. As a result there’s pressure across the public sector to virtualize infrastructure and employ Cloud technologies to reduce resource expenditures. Naturally, the next question is how do you secure networks and data in a cloud? This is exactly the question confronting every organization attempting to virtualize their architecture and it’s especially crucial in the realm of ISR.
EMC has 30 years of experience working with civilian, defense, and intelligence agencies, and offers a family of cutting-edge, high-performance technologies that address today’s ISR challenges. EMC offers the most cost-effective path to the cloud, virtualization, network security, and the optimum solution for Big Data analytics.