Air Force developing online guide

As the Air Force continues to define the myriad products and related standards that comprise its enterprise architecture vision, the service is developing an online reference guide where users can go to find the various pieces once they've been approved.

The Infostructure Technical Reference Model (i-TRM) is in beta form, but should be formally approved in the next few months, said Col. William Nelson, deputy director of C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) architecture and assessment, in the office of the deputy chief of staff for warfighting integration at Air Force headquarters.

A draft policy is being circulated while i-TRM is in beta and being used, tested and improved. Nelson said he expects the formal policy to to go out by March 2003.

The project defines the baseline environment for everything from workstations to e-mail messaging systems and plans for the transition to a tactical environment within two years, as well as strategic goals further into the future, Nelson said.

Speaking at a Nov. 12 enterprise architecture seminar sponsored by the Bethesda, Md., chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) International, Nelson said the i-TRM is divided into five main categories, each with numerous subdivisions:

* User environment, which includes workstations and analysis tools.

* Application services, which includes document management and Web applications.

* Data services, which includes data management and modeling.

* Integration services, which includes middleware and communications protocols.

* Common services, which includes network infrastructure and operating systems.

Furthermore, as technologies mature, they would be put into one of four categories:

* Emerging, which indicates that the technology has potential but is not in compliance with service standards.

* Mainstream, which means the technologies are compliant, primary-use products.

* Containment, which indicates that the products are in limited use and are noncompliant.

* Retirement, which is the designation for outdated products that should be eliminated.

As an example of how the categorization would work, Nelson said the Air Force's baseline environment for desktop operating systems includes six options, but the service's tactical goal is to get that down to the two that are deemed "mainstream" — Microsoft Corp. Windows 2000 and Sun Microsystems Inc. Solaris 7.0 — within three years. Anything older than Windows 95 has been given "retirement" status, while Windows XP and Linux are "emerging" and under evaluation.

Nelson said the i-TRM is the evolution of the Air Force's joint technical architecture plan, which periodically updated the data standards and requirements for the service.

"Instead of putting a paper-based document online, we'll use i-TRM," he said, adding that the project is still a work in progress. "We're going online and Web-based. These are the core building blocks, and this is the guidance they can use."


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