Army inspects open architecture
- By George I. Seffers
- Jul 27, 2000
Openwings, an information architecture being developed for the Army and
expected to revolutionize battlefield command, control and communications,
faces a challenging hurdle Friday when the technology is demonstrated to
the Army's V Corps commander in Europe.
The architecture could also be a leap toward what some call pervasive computing,
in which cars, household appliances and an array of other products become
connected to the Internet.
Motorola Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are developing Openwings for the
Army and will demonstrate a prototype to Lt. Gen. James Riley Friday as part
of a week-long conference on Army digitization.
"For this demonstration, we took a narrower focus and looked at some initial,
short-term things that can be done to solve some of their problems," said
Motorola's Guy Bieber, lead architect for effort. "We're looking at how
systems can come together with no administration."
One key element of the architecture is that it will allow forces to spontaneously
add new hardware and software without reconfiguring the entire network.
The architecture provides a network of three grids — a sensor grid, a command
and control grid and an engagement grid — tied together via a distributed
information network known as an information grid.
The concept calls for individual elements to automatically join a grid and
start producing information for other elements in the grid. For example,
if an unmanned aerial vehicle sensor flies into a specific mission area,
it would automatically be registered within the sensor grid as a provider
of services, such as infrared sensor data.
Once the architecture — which is designed to support distributed command,
control, communications, computer and intelligence operations — infiltrates
the Army, industry sources hope it will spread across the Defense Department
and, ultimately, dominate the commercial sector as well.
Friday's demonstration is important, according to Army and industry sources,
because — if successful — it will prove the viability of the concept on
the battlefield. The demonstration will include having devices join a network
at random without prior planning or setup.
"This is an important demonstration because it will show how this technology
and approach can help solve some interoperability problems," said David
Usechak, Army product manager for common software in the program executive
office for C3 systems. "[The next step will be] to continue developing the
architecture and approach. Hopefully, the companies involved can get some
support to continue this effort."