CONTRACT REPORTS: Service Oriented Architecture Will Accelerate Rapid DoD IT Solution Deployment


The advent and maturation of web service standards and technologies, and the use of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), are changing the way the Defense Department approaches IT capabilities and services.  Web services are an open standards-based way of creating,
offering, securing, and consuming IT services.  Part of the cultural change is how we approach the delivery of IT.  Today, the DoD is still a systems- and applications-based environment, implying that we operate in fairly closed communities of interest operating largely with client-server practices.  Think about this: Google and Amazon have little idea who will use their services from where and for how long.  That means an entirely different approach to service delivery, one the DoD must adopt.

The SOA approach has been adopted to accelerate the Defense Department’s concept of net-centric operations and warfare by ensuring that our warfighters access the right information, from trusted and accurate sources, when and where it is needed.  In May 2007, the DOD Chief Information Officer (CIO) published the DOD Net-Centric Services Strategy (NCSS) that reflects the DoD’s recognition that this service oriented approach can result in an explosion of capabilities for warfighters and decision makers to increase operational effectiveness.

SOA will be the “behind-the-glass”  magic that will improve information exchange across the Department of Defense.  It will eliminate hard wired interfaces among systems and applications by creating an environment in which information can be discovered and shared more easily and more quickly.  SOA  allows information providers offer to perform functions for  information consumers without the need to know in advance who may choose to consume the information or why they choose to consume. The interaction of the information provider and consumer occurs through a service interface described by a service agreement between the two, often referred to as machine-to-machine. This service “agreement” can define use, performance guarantees, and information assurance requirements that can apply to the information provider, consumer, or both.

 

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In the private sector, SOA has rapidly expanded beyond the IT arena where initial growth was sparked by companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Sun, and BEA. In the consumer arena, companies such as Google and Amazon
are creating whole new markets, enabling new businesses and exciting new consumer services through their adoption of SOA. For enterprises, Gartner forecasts a 22.1% compound annual growth rate for SOA services through 2011 as companies adopt services and SOA for use within their organizations. In addition, Gartner predicts that the worldwide market for software tools to support providing and consuming services will grow from
$41 billion to $142 billion from 2006 through 2011

As with anything new, though, challenges exist.  To address some, DISA hosts the Defense Department’s Enterprise-Wide System Engineering (EWSE) capability which is a collaborative effort to establish the policies and guidance needed to maintain a common foundation for this new collaborative and sharing environment. Through EWSE, DISA has driven adoption of the initial web service standards and developed the implementation guidance necessary to maintain security and improve interoperability as these
standards and technologies are incorporated into our daily business. DISA continues to work with industry and across the Department to mature and adopt necessary standards. 

DISA is providing foundational services for SOA through the Net-Centric Enterprise Services (NCES) program. These are designed to provide the Department with the core services that enable sharing and collaboration on a scale never envisioned.  The critical component is the SOA Framework, or SOAF.  While DISA just awarded a contract for the SOAF, some SOAF elements have been available to our customers through pilots and early user tests for several years. 

The Net-Enabled Command Capability (NECC) program has adopted a SOA approach to greatly enhance the decision superiority capabilities of Combatant Commands and joint task forces.  The SOA approach also enables the net-centric transformation of the Department’s existing Global Command and Control System (GCCS) Family of Systems (FOS) and the Global Combat Support System (GCSS).  In addition, as described above, the SOA is a foundation of our Federated Development and Certification Environment (FDCE).

 

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We’ve made progress in establishing SOA as a way of doing business and gaining consensus on shared standards and specifications which will allow web services to be available across the Defense enterprise.  Successes include the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) capability that uses NCES services to enable discovery and sharing of information on global commercial shipping among the Navy, Coast Guard, and Department of Transportation.  Programs like NECC and Global Electromagnetic Spectrum Information System (GEMSIS) will also take advantage of these core services and standards to allow services and information to be more readily discovered and shared among those who have information and those needing it.

While its meaning is often lost in technical jargon, the SOA is really about an approach to business processes enabled by new and evolving technologies and standards.  It speeds information sharing.  The Defense Department is adopting the SOA to facilitate rapid, sure information sharing so that the warfighter has the right information at the right time wherever he or she is around the world.