Third version of Army portal ready

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. - The Army is unveiling its third version of the Army Knowledge Online portal Sept. 9, complete with enterprise collaboration functions and the capability for users to build virtual forums to share information.

The service is also planning to issue a request for proposals within two months in search of a single contractor to maintain the portal that now boasts roughly 1.7 million accounts. 

Laura Petrosian of the Army's Enterprise Integration Directorate said AKO-3 is a major software update and includes enhancements that will let groups set up their own message boards, chat rooms and e-mail lists.

The version also includes a more flexible and tailored site, allows users to conduct polls and surveys and will have a unified messaging console where users can pick up messages and alerts from all their applications, Petrosian added.

Eddie Henderson, CIO of Field Artillery based in Fort Sill, Okla., said his units are already experiencing the benefits of the new version.

They have been testing it for the past 18 months.

"This is a one-stop shop through the AKO portal where all fire support will come to this one online place," Henderson explained during a session at the 2004 Directorates of Information Management/Army Knowledge Management conference.

Henderson said the collaboration tool has been used by troops in Iraq. If they have a particular need, they can set up their own structured forums and send out a query for help within a particular community of interest.

"This platform truly will be a mission multiplier," Henderson said. The new portal version operates on Appian Enterprise v.3, by Appian Corp. of Vienna, Va. The software version is an open-standards business process management suite. The tool will let users send content to an unlimited number of targeted areas, based on the profiles and preferences they set up.

Within a week, the Army will also issue a draft RFP for its AKO initiative.

The service currently has about seven contractors working various aspects of the portal, officials say, and want to decrease that number to a single contractor.

The final RFP will hit the streets by the end of October. AKO provides single sign-on access to roughly 2,000 Army applications and services.

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