DCIS Cube Architecting Initiative

The DCIS Cube Architecture is the result of collaboration between NCI Agency and commercial ICT industry, the DCIS Cube Architecting Initiative.

The DCIS Cube Architecture Initiative strives to enable the Coalition Ecosystem to do what a lot of the world is already doing (has been doing for years). The DCIS Cube architecture describes a deployable software-defined, virtualized and orchestrated communications and information systems (DCIS) infrastructure that can function under military operational conditions. The DCIS Cube architecture uses industry best practice, where needed augmented to meet the specific constraints and needs of military operations.

DCIS Cube Architecting Initiative Participants

The initiative started at NITEC’17, held on 24-26 April 2017, in Ottawa, Canada, where the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency) presented its vision for a modernized Deployable Communications and Information System (DCIS) and invited industry to partner up in building an architecting team, to collaboratively develop an architecture for a modern DCIS.

During NITEC'19, held 20-22 May 2019, in Oslo, Norway, the second edition of the DCIS Cube was announced: DCIS Cube 2.0.

The DCIS Cube 1.0 initiative started with 15 industry partners in 2017, DCIS Cube 2.0 engages in 2020 more than 30.

Participants in the DCIS Cube 2.0 architecting initiative


NATO plans to modernize its Deployable Communications and Information System (DCIS) to the next level to better meet the challenges imposed by today’s security environment. The NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency) envisions for NATO a DCIS that is more agile, that is less complex and at a lower total cost of ownership (TCO), than NATO owns today.

NATO’s existing DCIS, often referred to as the Dragonfly, consists of a myriad of complex yet powerful interlinked hardware and software components. The Dragonfly has suited NATO’s requirements so far. However, NCI Agency believes that by now the technical implementation of NATO’s DCIS should be improved to better suit the needs and challenges imposed by today’s security environment.

In order to make use of industry’s expertise, NCI Agency tried a new way of working and reached out to the commercial ICT industry to collaboratively architect a modern DCIS. The resulting DCIS architecture is named “DCIS Cube”.The DCIS Cube Architecture is state-of-the-art yet proven commercial industry best practice.

One of the important aspects of the DCIS Cube is the layered architecture that decouples hardware and function. Intend-based service orchestration and software-definition of all functions are other key aspects that define the DCIS Cube.

DCIS Cube 1.0

The DCIS Cube 1.0 Architecture applies a software defined, virtualized Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) approach and aims to enable graceful evolution of deployable systems.

The DCIS Cube building block may be seen as a universal component to build a deployable data centre that can be sized by combining more or less "Cubes" and install software on the Cubes to give them a function. In other words, the functionality is no longer directly determined by the hardware. Intent-based service orchestration builds ICT services from bare hardware using a services as code concept.

Continue to the DCIS Cube 1.0 Architecting Initiative whitepaper

DCIS Cube 2.0

The DCIS Cube 2.0 architecture builds on the DCIS Cube 1.0, with 5 focus areas:

DCIS Cube Architecture Deliverables

The DCIS Cube Architecting Initiative produced the following deliverables so far:

DCIS Cube Architecture Building Block

Connecting the Cube

These documents are available upon request through cube@dcis-cube.org.

Disclaimer and copyright

This page is an a voluntarily contribution to the DCIS Cube Architecting Initiative, kindly provided by Interalpha. The views, thoughts, and opinions offered herein are personal and do not represent endorsed or official policy of NATO and/or the NCI Agency.