The UK wing of Italian defense company Leonardo is moving its IT workloads to the cloud.

Working in partnership with Microsoft and Accenture, Leonardo is the first major defense company in the UK to make a move to a 'secure cloud computing strategy'.

Leonardo has deployed the cloud-based Azure across its UK business, enabling UK-based scientists and engineers to remotely access its digital backbone.

Microsoft Azure
– Sebastian Moss

Gareth Hetheridge, director of digital and IT, Leonardo UK, said: “With the introduction of the Leonardo digital backbone, employees, partners, and customers can now securely access relevant data and applications anytime, anywhere.

“This will be vital as the industry moves to a model of defense contracting where companies and customers work more closely together than ever before, despite being physically located around the country and internationally. Our close partnership with Microsoft UK and Accenture has allowed us to adopt this disruptive technology at pace and we’re very proud to be flying the flag for bringing the benefits of the cloud to the UK defense industry.”

According to the company, this move will speed up product research and development, reduce costs and enable ‘closer collaboration’ across its teams and 8,000 employees.

Leonardo’s Global Combat Air Program (GCAP), in which the company works to develop a 6th generation combat system, will be sped up using cloud computing. The company hopes that it will halve the time compared to the previous generation’s system, as well as automate a variety of time-consuming tasks.

Microsoft UK’s director of defense and secure markets, Aaron Neil, added: “Over the last year we have worked with Leonardo UK to better understand its digital transformation aspirations and priorities. We are delighted to support Leonardo's migration to Azure, enabling highly secure access to the cloud; this announcement is a testament to our close partnership and an exciting milestone in delivering advanced technology to accelerate capability delivery for UK Defence.”

One of the main concerns surrounding cloud computing is found in its security, because of this, Azure is offering ‘enhanced’ security. The deployment is part of the Ministry of Defense’s ambition to ‘unleash the power of defense data,’ a strategy shared in September 2021.

Microsoft has previously partnered with Leonardo in 2021, though this time to offer cloud services to the Italian public sector with Leonardo acting as the system integrator.

The UK Ministry of Defense moved some of its apps from a private cloud to MODCloud in September 2022, a public cloud platform enabling access to commercial providers including Oracle, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure. The migration was assisted by Netcompany.

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