M&S as a Service Concept

Modelling and Simulation (M&S) is a key enabler for the delivery of capabilities to NATO and Nations in the domains of training, analysis and decision-making. M&S solutions have to be integrated seamlessly in future computer information systems capabilities to ensure increased efficiency, affordability, interoperability and reusability. Technical developments in the area of Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs) may offer opportunities for providing M&S solutions that address current NATO critical shortfalls. 

The application of a “services” model to Modelling and Simulation, henceforth called “Modelling and Simulation as a Service” (MSaaS), promises to greatly reduce the barriers of cost and accessibility and to result in greater utility of M&S throughout NATO and the Nations. 

MSG-131 responds to a request by Nations and ACT to investigate a “NATO MSaaS” technical concept, and to investigate a supporting Reference SOA. 

The general approach taken by MSG-131 is to collect experience from Member Nations regarding the use of cloud solutions and service-oriented approaches within the M&S domain. This survey is used to develop a shared understanding of “M&S as a Service” in the NATO context. In addition, the survey provides a comprehensive documentation of MSaaS case studies and provides an overview of existing service-oriented (reference) architectures in the M&S domain. Based on these existing experiences and architectures, conclusions and recommendations are derived on the way forward. 

A main conclusion of MSG-131 is that M&S is a critical technology for NATO and the Nations, independent of whether it is provided “as a service” or not. However, service-based approaches to M&S offer many potential benefits. Therefore, an alignment of “M&S as a Service” with the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI) is required, as the primary objective of the CFI (i.e., sharing and pooling of resources) is closely reflected in MSaaS. Similarly, it is required to align M&S and MSaaS with the NATO C3 Classification Taxonomy as this is the primary tool used by NATO to chart the NATO Consultation, Command and Control (C3) landscape. 

MSG-131 identified various open issues with regards to MSaaS, spanning a broad range from technical to organizational questions. In accordance with its Technical Activity Description, MSG-131 recommends investigation of MSaaS in more detail. A Technical Activity Proposal for a follow-on Research Task Group was developed by MSG-131 and endorsed in June 2014. The Task Group MSG-136 (“Modelling and Simulation (M&S) as a Service (MSaaS) – Rapid Deployment of Interoperable and Credible Simulation Environments”) will start its 3-year term in November 2014. 

The NMSG has a formal Technical Cooperation Agreement with SISO on the development of M&S interoperability standards. MSG-131 strongly recommends that MSG-136 continues to engage with the SISO community to investigate areas where MSaaS-related standardization efforts are needed. The hands-on experiences with case studies will provide guidance and candidates for architectures, data models and interfaces that could become future SISO standards.