Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University
Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University

Tactical Cloudlets: Moving Cloud Computing to the Edge

To support their missions, military and emergency personnel operating in crisis and hostile environments increasingly use mobile applications. Most of these applications perform computation-intensive tasks such as speech and image recognition, natural language processing, and situational awareness enhancement. These tasks take a heavy toll on the mobile device's battery power and computing resources. Unfortunately, battlefield and disaster environments are not only at the edge of the network infrastructure, but are also resource constrained, due to dynamic context, limited computing resources, intermittent network connectivity, and high levels of stress.

Cyber-foraging augments the capabilities of resource-limited mobile devices by leveraging compute resources in the surrounding environment. Cloudlet-based cyber-foraging relies on discoverable, generic, forward-deployed servers located in single-hop proximity of mobile devices.

Tactical Cloudlets can be hosted on vehicles or other platforms in proximity of mobile users to

  • provide infrastructure to offload expensive computation
  • provide forward data staging for a mission
  • perform data filtering to remove unnecessary data from streams intended for dismounted users
  • serve as collection points for data heading for enterprise repositories


The server's proximity allows the mobile device adequate connectivity to offload computational tasks to the cloudlet and share data and applications. Should that connectivity become lost or degraded, cloudlets can operate in disconnected mode. Moreover, they are virtual-machine based, which promotes scalability, mobility, flexibility, and elasticity.

Read more about cyber foraging and use of tactical cloudlets.