DOD sets sights on development of Shared Data Environment

SAN DIEGO - Now that the Defense Information Systems Agency has developed a Common Operating Environment (COE) for its combat and support systems allowing users to share applications the agency wants to do the same for data.

The development of a Shared Data Environment (Shade) will allow users to tap into the Defense Department's yet-to-be-developed intranet to access data in new and legacy systems and to use the information on Global Command and Control System (GCCS) or Global Combat Support System (GCSS) terminals said DISA director Lt. Gen. Al Edmonds.

Edmonds speaking here at the annual Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Database Colloquium said he expects that eventually commanders will use one terminal to run GCCS and GCSS - and the systems' common data - as demonstrated by the agency last week during the Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration.

Edmonds added that DISA continues to develop standard data elements with 11 975 in the inventory as of last week compared with just three in September 1993.

Diane McCoy the newly appointed DISA deputy director for command control communications computers and intelligence programs who also serves as DOD's data administrator called the Shade program the "next step" in the evolution of the DISA-backed DOD-wide computing architecture.

Shared data McCoy said can be best understood by looking at the kind of personnel information contained in today's stovepiped human resources payroll and health systems. Each of those systems contains the same basic data about an individual - name Social Security number date of birth - and Shade will develop an architecture and protocols to enable the sharing of this common data.

The need to share data cuts across logistics databases McCoy said and early Shade efforts will focus on these and similar "cross-functional areas."

Explaining that the COE made it easy to share applications by building a framework McCoy said "We're going to build a framework to share data so you can share information." Finding and sharing information in stovepiped legacy systems is a key goal of Shade McCoy said. Solutions could include a global dictionary system and "pointers" to information stored in legacy systems.

McCoy said World Wide Web technology running on a DOD Web intranet "is one of the solutions for the legacy database issue." She said it may be possible for users to "surf" the intranet and download not only the information they need but the applications as well.

The Shade architecture will evolve within the COE McCoy said and it will focus on "processes and techniques to share data." The Shade architecture will cover techniques and processes such as metadata management data mediation replication security standards models and the databases themselves according to presentations made by Edmonds and McCoy.

McCoy said she expects DISA to start distributing Shade modules "within a year " but she cautioned that the evolutionary effort will take years. However McCoy said "data sharing is key.... It's essential to winning the information war.

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