The U.S. Army has turned to cloud computing, and to Wisconsin companies, to improve its intelligence gathering in Afghanistan.
Under a $19.5 million contract, the Army is buying computer services from a Lockheed Martin Corp. team that includes Silicon Graphics International of Chippewa Falls and IEA Inc. of Kenosha.
Cloud computing uses remote servers connected to a global network to store, manage and process data. The “cloud” is quickly becoming the place where many people keep information like music and pictures, rather than storing it on their computer hard drives.
Silicon Graphics and IEA have built four cloud nodes – which are network connection points – housed in 20-foot shipping containers that can be dropped into remote areas.
One of the nodes will be shipped to Afghanistan this month, where it will give battlefield commanders the ability to do real-time analysis of intelligence reports filed from around the world.
There’s no doubt it’s going to save lives, said Col. Charles Wells, project manager of the Distributed Common Ground Systems-Army program that’s handling the cloud computing project.
“Literally, every text intelligence report that’s been written since 2003 is loaded into this system,” Wells said.
The Army has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on cloud computing.