SMEs encouraged to bid in €3bn Nato tech refresh, €71m for cyber
SMEs encouraged to bid in €3bn Nato tech refresh, €71m for cyber

Expenditure of some €71 million on cyber-security services is planned as part of a refresh of Nato's cyber-shield. Nato's tech and cyber arm, Nato Communications and information Agency (NCI Agency), will be putting 40 contracts out to tender in the next 18 to 24 months, as part of its €3 billion tech refresh.

Further details will be provided at the three day industry conference #NITEC17 (www.nitec.nato.int) opening 24th April in Ottawa during which international competitive bids will also be invited for:

• A continuing upgrade of NATO's networks (€220 million),

• Advanced software improving NATO's situational awareness and command and control in operations (€180 million),

• The expansion of Satcom bandwidth for deployed forces (€1.7 billion),

• Air and Missile Defence Command and Control (€800 million)

The event aims to encourage further expanding Nato's industry partnerships to engage small and medium enterprises, innovative, cutting-edge businesses, particularly in the light of cyber-threats. 

This will include workshops on common mistakes in bid proposals, and the fundamentals of doing business with the NCI Agency. In 2015 some €800 million was invested by member countries, reaching €3 billion in 2016, and again in 2017. 

This expenditure is described by the organisation as representing a steady, continuing and significant investment in maintaining Nato's technological edge, the ability to rapidly deploy and sustain forces and to address new threats and challenges – among which cyber-threats were specifically mentioned.

On 30 March NCI Agency signed a €80 million contract with General Dynamics IT for the delivery of the first phase of NATO's IT Modernisation programme. The contract also includes options for three future phases, up to a total value of €140 million.

Koen Gijsbers, NCI Agency general manager commented, "This contract will fundamentally reshape NATO's nervous system and allow us to reduce costs. In light of its importance to the Alliance's cyber-posture, it is paramount that the work is executed on time, in scope and in budget. I look forward to our journey to the cloud with General Dynamics IT," The contract is part of broader, continuing investment described above intended to ensure NATO maintains its technological edge.

The contract represents an important step in the wide-scale adoption of cloud computing technologies in Nato, described not as a vulnerability but with enhanced information security cited among its benefits, along with increased availability of services, strengthening NATO-wide resilience capability,  and increasing the mobility and agility of the workforce.

The functional scope of the first phase includes the delivery of two Data Centres in Mons (BEL) and Lago Patria (ITA), as well as two geographically separated Service Operations Centres. The Data Centres will be based on a Dell Hyper Converged solution using VxRail technology as foundation. General Dynamics IT will also be responsible for the implementation of Enhanced Nodes in Norfolk (USA), Northwood (GBR), Izmir (TUR), and Sigonella (ITA), and for all the associated integration and transition activity.

Enhanced nodes will host computer capabilities supporting applications not deemed to be centralised, intended to increase resilience and improve user experience. Under subsequent phases, General Dynamics IT will integrate NATO HQ in Brussels (BEL) as a third Data Centre and implement additional Enhanced and Standard Nodes across Europe.

In total, ITM will deliver to seven sites during the first phase and to 44 sites across the entire programme. The first phase is estimated to be completed by September 2018.