DOD net-centric pilot making progress

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"Call to service"

As the Defense Department continues to transform its warfighting and business systems into a network-centric environment, the DOD chief information officer's office is working with the Defense Information Systems Agency on a "core enterprise services" initiative that will form the foundation of that vision.

The Net-Centric Enterprise Services (NCES) pilot project being run by DISA would enable the military and intelligence communities to access information relevant to their missions regardless of what agency operates the network where the data resides, said Rob Walker, DISA's program manager for the pilot program.

In a network-centric environment, data would be made available as quickly as possible to those who need it across the organization or on the battlefield.

Walker said many DOD systems in the field today use a client/server architecture, and the key will be shifting those systems to a service architecture so that all users can see the tactical picture.

The NCES initiative, which was launched late last year, would create an infrastructure that will enable users to quickly take advantage of DOD and intelligence community networks and eliminate the system-by-system approach, Walker said.

More than $40 million is in the fiscal 2004 budget request for the NCES pilot project, but it is "still not an official program; it's an initiative at this point," Walker said.

"The budget is a wedge," he said. "If this is the right way to proceed, there are resources earmarked to do them. We're trying to get enough information and do analysis to support the decision by [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] in fiscal 2004."

Priscilla Guthrie, DOD's deputy CIO, said the department is in the process of articulating what the core enterprise services are and how different systems, or communities of interest, will support them. She added that DOD's CIO office will soon release a strategy paper on the subject, but declined to give a timetable for that document.

The NCES pilot program currently includes nine core enterprise services that the DOD has identified as being critical to supporting the business and warfighting sides of the enterprise:

* Collaboration.

* Messaging.

* Security.

* Discovery.

* Mediation.

* Enterprise systems management.

* User assistance.

* Storage of the massive amounts of information already on the networks and collected in the future.

* Application—an infrastructure to host and organize the data.

The various pilot programs within the NCES initiative are used to find "what works and what doesn't," and DISA is also coordinating those efforts with other agencies to take advantage of their related programs, especially any enterprise application integration work already being done, Walker said.

"This is not just for the command and control environment," he said. "It's a much more broad application of services for all communities within DOD: the business side, [command and control] side and combat support."


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