Promoting more Resilient DoD IT Architectures

Stephen DeAngelis

August 23, 2006

An article posted on TechNewsWorld.com discusses a Department of Defense (DoD) report that urges the Department to adopt an open architecture approach [“Defense Dept. Report Urges Adoption of Open Technology,” By Wade-Hahn Chan, Federal Computer Week, 20 August 2006]. According to the article:

The Defense Department should adopt an open technology model for software procurement and distribution, according to a new report prepared for Sue Payton, deputy undersecretary of Defense for Advanced Systems and Concepts. That report, the Open Technology Development road map, states that collaborative software development would save money and give DOD greater systems development and acquisition flexibility.

The report also recommends that the DoD adopt a service-oriented architecture, something that we have been promoting to the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community as well as other government departments and agencies to help make them more resilient. Since the DoD spends around $14 billion a year on software, the direction it takes could have a major impact on software providers. The article notes that “developers of proprietary technologies would be able to observe open standards in DOD projects and market their products in ways that complement open source to meet the agency’s needs.” Authors of the DoD report are working with the non-profit group Open Source Software Institute (OSSI) and will be meeting next month with the Association for Enterprise Integration, a nonprofit industry and government group interested in electronic business practices on whose board I serve. According to the article:

Several DOD test projects are applying open technology standards. One such project is the Large Data Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration, which involves moving, indexing, sorting and accessing large amounts of data. Open source geospatial programs are among those being tested in the integration demonstration. The project has been under way for six months, [John Scott, co-author of the OTD report] said. The next step in the road map is to draft best practices models and papers culled from industry experiences, Scott said. The biggest challenge will be cultural rather than technical, he added. “Infrastructure seems to be pretty well taken care of, so we’re just moving up the stack [looking at] newer and better applications that are coming out there,” Scott said.

As government agencies move forward, service-oriented architectures will help connect interagency processes, improve information sharing, and help breakdown stovepipes that have traditionally characterized hierarchical organizations. In the end, adoption of the report’s recommendations should help make the government more resilient.