How Virtualization and Containerization are Revolutionizing Naval Operations


As systems across all domains of the battlespace become increasingly software-based, virtualization and containerization will play a critical role in their implementation. 

In this blog, you will learn more about the differences between virtualization and containerization, how they play a critical role in enhancing modern naval applications, and how Trenton’s solutions can help.

What is virtualization, and how does it work?

Virtualization is a technology that allows multiple virtual computers, called virtual machines, to run on a single physical machine. Each virtual machine runs its own operating system and applications, and is isolated from other virtual machines running on the same physical machine.

Virtualization works by creating a layer of abstraction between the operating system and the underlying hardware. The virtualization software, also known as a hypervisor, creates virtual machines that simulate the functionality of physical computers, including their own CPU, memory, and storage resources. The hypervisor manages the allocation of these resources to each virtual machine and ensures that the machines operate independently from each other.

By creating virtual machines that can run multiple operating systems and applications on a single physical machine, virtualization can help reduce hardware costs, improve resource utilization, and enable more efficient software development and deployment processes.

What is containerization, and how does it work?

Containerization is a form of operating system virtualization that allows software applications to run in isolated, portable environments called containers.

Containers package an application with all its dependencies, including libraries, configurations, and files, into a single portable unit that can be easily deployed and run consistently across different environments. Each container houses individual functions of an application called microservices.

Containerization works by utilizing the host operating system’s kernel to provide resource isolation and management for the containerized application. The container engine, such as Docker or Kubernetes, provides a layer of abstraction that allows multiple containers to run on the same host without interfering with each other, and each container shares the host operating system’s kernel.

Containerization can provide benefits such as increased portability, scalability, consistency, and isolation of applications and their dependencies, which can lead to more efficient and reliable software development and deployment processes.

How do virtualization and containerization work together?

At a high level, virtualization and containerization can work together by using virtualization to provision and manage the underlying infrastructure, and containerization to package and deploy the applications.

An organization can use virtualization to provision a virtual machine that runs multiple containers, each containing a different microservice. This approach can help ensure the reliability and consistency of the underlying infrastructure, while also providing the flexibility and portability of containerization.

Another way virtualization and containerization can work together is by using containers to package and deploy different parts of an application, while using virtualization to isolate and manage the environments where the containers are running. This approach can help improve the scalability and efficiency of the application while also ensuring that it runs in a secure and isolated environment. 

By combining virtualization and containerization, developers can create highly scalable and efficient software development environments that are easy to manage and secure. 

Learn more about the differences between virtualization and containerization here.

How do virtualization and containerization work together?

At a high level, virtualization and containerization can work together by using virtualization to provision and manage the underlying infrastructure, and containerization to package and deploy the applications.

Why are virtualization and containerization becoming increasingly popular for naval applications?

Virtualization and containerization are becoming increasingly important for naval applications for several reasons:

  1. Scalability: Virtualization and containerization allow for the dynamic allocation of resources, making it easier to scale systems up or down as needed. This is particularly important for naval applications, where the amount of resources needed can change quickly in response to changing operational conditions. Additionally, upgrades and/or maintenance can be completed in seconds without affecting the rest of the system still in operation. 
  2. Agility: Virtualization and containerization allow for the deployment of new systems and applications quickly and easily. This can help naval applications to keep pace with the rapidly evolving threat landscape.
  3. Resilience: Virtualization and containerization allow for the creation of multiple redundant systems, which can help to increase overall system resilience. In the event of a failure, the system can quickly switch to a backup, reducing downtime and ensuring mission-critical systems remain operational.
  4. Interoperability: Virtualization and containerization allow for the integration of different systems and applications, improving overall system interoperability. This can help to ensure that different components of a system can work together seamlessly, even if they were developed by different organizations.
  5. Security: Virtualization and containerization can improve the overall security of naval applications. By running applications in isolated virtual environments, it becomes more difficult for attackers to compromise the system as a whole. Additionally, virtualization and containerization allow for the deployment of security-focused microservices, which can help to protect against cyber threats.
  6. Meeting SWaP-C requirements: Virtualization and containerization greatly reduce the amount of hardware needed, and thus, the number of resources. This, in turn, reduces the amount of space needed, hardware cost, and power requirements.
  7. Disaster Recovery: Virtualization and containerization make it easier to perform disaster recovery by allowing for quick creation of new virtual machines and containers to replace failed physical machines. This can help ensure the continuity of operations in case of a disaster.

The role of DevSecOps 

DevSecOps is an approach to software development that emphasizes the integration of security considerations into all stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). This includes the design, development, testing, deployment, operations, maintenance, and upgrades of software applications.

The goal of DevSecOps is to build security into the software development process from the beginning, rather than treating it as an afterthought. This helps organizations to identify and remediate potential security vulnerabilities early in the development process, when they are easier and less expensive to address.

DevSecOps can enhance virtualization and containerization for naval applications by integrating security into the development and deployment processes. By doing so, the following can be achieved:

  1. Faster deployment and testing of applications: DevSecOps enables faster delivery of applications and updates, reducing the time to market and increasing the frequency of releases.
  2. Improved security: By incorporating security into the development process, DevSecOps can help identify and fix vulnerabilities early in the software development lifecycle, reducing the risk of security breaches and attacks.
  3. Increased collaboration: DevSecOps brings together developers, security teams, and operations teams to work together in a more streamlined and efficient manner, improving communication and collaboration.
  4. Automated security: Automated security testing and analysis can be integrated into the development process, enabling security teams to focus on higher-level security concerns and reducing the risk of human error.

In addition, both virtualization and containerization can support DevSecOps by allowing development, testing, and production environments to be easily provisioned, automated, and isolated.

This can help reduce the risk of security vulnerabilities, increase the speed and accuracy of software development and deployment, and improve collaboration between development, security, and operations teams.

DevSecOps

DevSecOps is an approach to software development that emphasizes the integration of security considerations into all stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). This includes the design, development, testing, deployment, operations, maintenance, and upgrades of software applications.

By incorporating DevSecOps into the development and deployment of virtualization and containerization, the Navy can enhance the security and efficiency of their mission-critical applications.

Let’s take look at some of these applications in detail.

Navy Use Cases

Integrated combat system

What is an integrated combat system?

An integrated combat system is a collection of hardware, software, and communication systems that work together to provide real-time information, command and control, and decision-making capabilities to Navy personnel. 

The system provides a comprehensive view of the operational environment and enables the Navy to respond quickly and effectively to threats and changing conditions.

The components of the system can include radar systems, weapons systems, communication systems, and data processing systems, among others.

The goal of an integrated combat system is to enhance situational awareness and increase the effectiveness of Navy operations by providing real-time information, enabling rapid decision-making, and facilitating coordinated responses.

An integrated combat system for the Navy enables ships to act as a “system of systems” by allowing for seamless communication and coordination between multiple ships in a fleet, as well as with the central command center, which can be on land or at sea.

In this scenario, ships and the command center would each have their own integrated combat system. With this information, the ships can work together to carry out their missions and respond to threats in a coordinated and efficient manner.

Usually, there will be ships in a fleet that are controlled by a centralized command center, but it is also possible that there is only one ship in operation controlled by a local command center, or there is no command center at all.

(As a side note, “system of systems” can also refer to the integrated combat system itself due to its extensive capabilities.)

Why are integrated combat systems moving to software?

Integrated combat systems are moving to software for several reasons, including:

  1. Flexibility: Software-based systems offer greater flexibility compared to hardware-based systems. They can be updated and modified much more easily, enabling faster incorporation of new capabilities and technologies.
  2. Cost: Software-based systems are often more cost-effective than hardware-based systems. This is because software can be developed and produced more quickly and at a lower cost than hardware, and it can also be distributed and deployed more easily.
  3. Interoperability: Software-based systems can be designed to be interoperable with other systems, enabling better coordination and communication between different platforms and systems.
  4. Scalability: Software-based systems can be scaled up or down more easily than hardware-based systems, making them better suited for rapidly changing and unpredictable combat scenarios.
  5. Enhanced capabilities: Software-based systems can be designed to provide enhanced capabilities, such as improved sensor processing and data fusion, advanced decision support, and enhanced situational awareness.

The ultimate goal is to have a standard, containerized software suite that can be deployed on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware across multiple ships in a fleet and connect multiple ships to ensure maximum situational awareness and coordinated, rapid-decision making in real-time.

One example of a hardware-based integrated combat system capability that has moved to software is radar processing. In the past, radar processing was performed using specialized hardware, such as analog-to-digital converters, signal processing boards, and other components. This hardware was specialized, expensive, and required extensive expertise to maintain and upgrade.

Today, radar processing is increasingly performed using software-based systems. The radar data is digitized and processed using software algorithms running on COTS hardware platforms, such as servers and workstations. This software-based approach offers several benefits, including improved accuracy, enhanced capabilities, and reduced cost.

For example, the software can be designed to provide advanced signal processing techniques, such as digital beamforming, to improve the accuracy of the radar data. The software can also be designed to provide enhanced target tracking and identification capabilities, and to support more advanced data fusion techniques.

Additionally, the use of COTS hardware platforms can significantly reduce the cost of the radar processing system, compared to using specialized hardware components.

How can virtualization and containerization help?

Virtualization and containerization can enhance an integrated combat system for the Navy in a number of ways. For example: 

  1. Suppose the Navy needs to deploy a new software application that provides real-time analysis of satellite data to support maritime surveillance and reconnaissance. This application requires different software components, such as a database, a web server, and a machine learning algorithm, to work together in a seamless way.
  2. Using virtualization, the Navy can deploy this application on a virtual machine that is isolated from other applications and has its own set of resources, such as CPU, memory, and storage. This allows the Navy to run multiple applications on a single physical server, while ensuring that they do not interfere with each other and have sufficient resources to perform their tasks. 
  3. To further improve the scalability and efficiency of the application, the Navy can use containerization to package the different software components of the application into separate containers. Each container can run a specific component, such as the database, the web server, or the machine learning algorithm, and communicate with other containers using a lightweight and secure network protocol. These containers run on the virtual machine. 
  4. This approach allows the Navy to deploy, update, and manage the different components of the application independently, without affecting the overall system performance or availability. It also allows the Navy to scale the application up or down, depending on the workload and resource requirements, by adding or removing containers dynamically.

Overall, by using virtualization and containerization, the Navy can enhance its integrated combat system by providing a flexible, scalable, and secure infrastructure for running different software applications and services, which can improve its operational capabilities and effectiveness.

How can virtualization and containerization help an integrated combat system for the Navy?

Source: navsea.navy.mil. An integrated combat system is a collection of hardware, software, and communication systems that work together to provide real-time information, command and control, and decision-making capabilities to Navy personnel. 

JADC2

What is JADC2?

JADC2 (Joint All-Domain Command and Control) is a system designed to give military commanders a comprehensive view of all domains, including air, land, sea, space, and cyber, within a tactical wide area network.

Domains communicate with one another as well as with a commander or commanders. This information is used to help commanders make informed decisions and formulate an effective response.

By integrating information from multiple domains and sources, JADC2 aims to provide military commanders with a more complete and accurate picture of the battlefield, enabling faster and more effective decision-making in real-time.

How can virtualization and containerization help?

Virtualization and containerization can work together to enhance a JADC2 initiative for the Navy in a number of ways. For example:

  1. Virtualization can allow for multiple virtual command centers (VCCs) to be set up, each running on its own virtual machine (VM). These VCCs can be located on a central command ship or at shore-based locations.
  2. Each VCC can be optimized to run AI/ML/DL algorithms, providing the fleet with real-time insights and predictions on threats and potential responses.
  3. The VCCs can communicate with each other, as well as with other domains, such as the air and land domains, to gather a comprehensive view of all threats and potential responses.
  4. Containerization can be used to deploy an integrated combat system software suite as a set of containerized applications. These containers can be run on the VMs inside the VCCs, as well as on other servers throughout the fleet, providing a flexible and scalable deployment architecture.
  5. The containers can be run across multiple servers on the same ship, providing enhanced speed and efficiency as well as increased resiliency in the event of server failure.

By combining virtualization and containerization, a JADC2 initiative for the Navy can provide a highly flexible, scalable, and secure platform for integrating and analyzing data from multiple domains, and for directing the fleet on how to proceed in real-time.

JADCHow can virtualization and containerization help JADC2?

Source: breakingdefense.com. JADC2 (Joint All-Domain Command and Control) is a system designed to give military commanders a comprehensive view of all domains, including air, land, sea, space, and cyber. 

5G and SATCOM

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks, designed to provide high-speed, low-latency, and more reliable wireless connectivity for consumers and businesses. It is designed to support a wide range of applications, including the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality, and autonomous vehicles, among others.

What is SATCOM?

SATCOM, or Satellite Communications, refers to the use of satellites to establish communication links between different points on Earth. It enables global connectivity for various applications, including telecommunications, broadcasting, military operations, and remote sensing.

How can virtualization and containerization help?

Think of multiple ships in a fleet that are connected. These ships need to communicate with one another in a matter of seconds, as even the slightest delay can lead to life-threatening consequences. 

Data processing and analysis is done on COTS hardware at the edge on the ships, as opposed to in a distant data center. This hardware can even host both access networks and the core network.

5G provides the bidirectional, low-latency connectivity needed to facilitate rapid data transfer between ships within relatively short distances. For communication over longer distances or within contested environments, SATCOM is preferred.

Additionally, various networking functions can be either virtualized or containerized, limiting the amount of hardware and ensuring that each task or application has dedicated resources, reducing congestion and latency. 

A virtualized network function (VNF) is a network function that operates as its own virtual machine inside of a piece of hardware, inside a virtual machine as an application, or by itself on a piece of hardware. 

A containerized network function (CNF) is a network function that operates within containers either inside virtual machines or by itself on a piece of hardware.

Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs) and Containerized Network Functions (CNFs) can enhance speed and security in networking by providing an isolated and modular environment for running network services and functions, which, in turn, limits interference. 

This also enables faster deployment, scaling, and updating of network services as well as better resource management. 

Here is an example of how virtualization and containerization can enhance an integrated 5G + SATCOM network infrastructure for the Navy: 

  1. Virtualization and containerization technologies can be utilized to efficiently manage and deploy software applications and services across a distributed network architecture, while 5G and SATCOM would provide the connectivity and bandwidth required for seamless and reliable communication.
  2. 5G, with its high data rates, low latency, and massive device connectivity, can enable real-time data exchange between shipboard systems, sensors, and personnel. This can facilitate enhanced situational awareness, mission coordination, and decision-making capabilities.
  3. SATCOM, on the other hand, would provide the Navy with global coverage, allowing for seamless communication and data transfer between ships, command centers, and other assets, regardless of their location. It would enable remote management, updates, and maintenance of virtualized applications and containers, ensuring consistent software versions and configurations across the fleet. SATCOM’s resilience and redundancy features would also ensure reliable communications in challenging environments or during adversarial situations.

Allowing multiple virtualized network functions and containerized network functions to run efficiently on an integrated 5G + SATCOM network infrastructure improves speed and agility while maintaining security and reliability.

How can virtualization and containerization help 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks, designed to provide high-speed, low latency, and more reliable wireless connectivity for a growing range of commercial, military, and critical infrastructure applications.

Where does Trenton come into play?

At Trenton, our COTS, SWaP-C-optimized high-performance computers are designed with our customers in a consultative relationship to provide a solution that best fits their application needs, including virtualization and containerization.

Powered by Intel® SmartEdge Software, NVIDIA® Multi-Instance A100 GPUs, and Raytheon® cybersecurity technologies, we deliver end-to-end solutions for an enhanced out-of-box experience, maximum scalability, and hardware-based protection of critical workloads at the tactical edge. 

With modularity at both the hardware and software level, our systems can also support PCIe 5.0, CXL, and 4th Gen Intel® Xeon Scalable Processors to provide the speeds and feeds needed for integrated combat systems, JADC2 initiatives, and enhanced 5G connectivity. (Read more here.)

We have the potential to integrate features and/or functions needed for the broader system, application, or weapons program into our hardware, and we can help customers meet their government small business content requirements. 

With a tight grip on our supply chain and multi-layer cybersecurity, we ensure that we incorporate components free of vulnerabilities from hostile nations, and we protect our systems from the most sophisticated of cyberattacks. 

Interested in learning more about how we support Naval applications? Click here to get a closer look. 

Team Trenton is at your service. 😎





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