Changing the way military training is delivered with Fabric

Fujitsu Fabric is a highly-resilient, secure, private cloud-based solution that delivers a fully flexible workplace environment without compromising the integrity and security of your existing infrastructure.

Fabric’s flexibility makes it an ideal platform to deliver training and simulation activities as it removes the need for resource-hungry training and simulation software to be loaded on desktop PCs or laptops.

Fabric creates an environment that gives people instant, secure access to the training and simulation resources they need, when and where they need them. The result is the virtual classroom, and the potential to change the way military training and simulation activities are delivered.

But does it scale?

As a secure, cloud-based solution, Fabric enables sophisticated graphics-based training tools and resources to be accessed remotely using basic computer hardware via relatively slow internet connections. Or at least, that’s the theory.

So we decided to put Fabric to the test in a recent internal trial in response to one of our international customers. We wanted to find out whether the Fabric platform could be scaled for high density graphics for 50 simultaneous users.

Training participants being briefed.

 

50-user trial

Our 50 participants used a variety of hardware to access their training and simulation resources via Fabric. Hardware used was in line with the system’s minimum requirements and included thin clients, desktop PCs and laptops, some of which were up to four years old with relatively limited graphics capability.

The purpose here was to demonstrate that inexpensive, commodity equipment can be used by users to access their training resources securely.

The majority of trial participants were gathered in a traditional classroom environment with a small proportion accessing the system remotely using standard residential broadband.

Again, the purpose here was to demonstrate the real-life application of Fabric, and its ability to enable users to access resources from geographically dispersed locations, potentially via slow-speed internet connections, in this case from the comfort of their own homes.

During the trial, our participants were operating as dismounted soldiers leveraging industry-leading training and simulation software from Bohemia Interactive Simulations in the shape of Virtual Battlespace 3 (VBS3).  This flexible solution for scenario training and mission rehearsal provides professional simulation to real-life experiences, likely to be encountered in the battle space.

Could Fabric cope with such graphically intensive workload? Could the system handle 50 simultaneous users? Would the commodity hardware be up to the job? And would the remote user’s internet connection be sufficient?

Virtual training showing military environment.

 

Success or failure?

Well, the answer was a resounding ‘yes’ to all of the above! Throughout the one-hour trial Fabric met or exceeded all of our requirements. Key metrics achieved included:

  • The complexity of the simulation activity involved 500 soldiers – 50 of which were controlled by our trial participants, and 450 artificially controlled by the simulation;
  • Fabric could achieve up to 60 frames per second (FPS) with high density graphics, and averaged 25 FPS throughout the trial which is the upper limit achieved by standard DVD video gameplay;
  • A draw distance of 3,000m was achieved throughout the trial.

 As we anticipated for such a graphically intense workload, the stress placed on the servers was high, but there was still headroom to achieve more if required, either to increase the number of users beyond 50, or increase the intensity of the graphics. Further scope for increasing the scalability exists simply by adding more servers.

Building on what we have learned from this trial, further performance improvements can be achieved, and we’ll be working closely with our partners, like Bohemia, to develop and deliver these enhancements to the solution.

Training participants using Fujitsu Fabric.

 

In conclusion

This trial has proved that Fabric can operate to scale, and to the best of our knowledge we believe that this is the first 50-user trial of this nature.

Fabric easily enables Reservists to train from remote locations – a big change to how military organisations deliver their training and simulation activities. Individual users can access the platform from anywhere, at any time, using any device without compromising the integrity and security of existing infrastructure.

The way people access the training and simulation resources also dramatically increases efficiency. Training scenarios can be delivered in real-time, with the capability to change the scenarios ‘in-flight’ to make the exercise as realistic as possible to the situations the users are likely to encounter.  Users can even pause a scenario on one device, and pick up where they left off on another device, at a time and place that suits them.

Military training provision becomes much more manageable and transparent with Fabric. Real-time licence management allows you to monitor usage, and ensures you only pay for what you use. Meanwhile, built-in compliance and monitoring keeps you in full control ensuring you can assess, evaluate and fully cost every training activity and simulation exercise, and eradicate inactive licence costs.

Such insight enables the accurate costing of individual activities allowing informed decisions to be made to improve the cost effectiveness of future training and simulation investments. The result is full control and accountability of decision making, as Fabric enables existing and future training and simulation resources to be optimised.

What next?

Following the resounding success of this first trial, more expansive external trials using real-life military personnel and the training and simulation scenarios they encounter are now being planned and will be the subject of future blogs.

In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about Fujitsu Fabric, please visit: http://www.fujitsu.com/uk/solutions/industry/defence-national-security/

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