DKO migration plan takes shape

The Navy and Air Force are preparing for the Defense Knowledge Online (DKO) Web portal by consolidating their own portals and developing common requirements. However, neither service will officially move to the DKO until a new contract exists, in 2009 at the earliest.

Navy and Air Force leaders are concerned about whether DKO will have the infrastructure to support their users and applications. Also, both services want to be covered by a departmentwide contract that will pay for their move to the system.

In 2006, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the Army chose the Army Knowledge Online (AKO) Web portal as the template for DKO because of its size and success in serving more than 1.8 million users. But under the AKO contract, led by Lockheed Martin, funds cannot be spent on Navy or Air Force users.

The Navy and Air Force, heavily invested in their portal efforts, refused to spend money on the new portal.

Now all parties are converging around a common plan: to issue a DKO contract in 2009 that will cover all services’ costs. At that time, the Army’s AKO contract, DISA’s Network Centric Enterprise Services contract and the Global Command Support System – Air Force (GCSS-AF) contract will all be ready for recompetition.

The Air Force plans to shut down GCSS-AF, but needs its infrastructure to run command and control programs and manage applications, said Lt. Gen. Michael Peterson, Air Force chief information officer, at a luncheon today of the Washington, D.C., chapter of AFCEA.

“AKO is an exquisite portal,” Peterson said, referring to its success in instant messaging and linking soldiers with their families. “If you’re a soldier in the field, that’s exactly what you want.”

But DKO must include a strong integration framework for the Air Force to join. “The Army bought a portal; they did not buy the framework behind it to start migrating those legacy platforms,” Peterson said.

DKO is a dramatic improvement over AKO, but still doesn’t adequately address infrastructure issues, he said. “The scope is there, but there’s no framework to move to,” Peterson said.

The DKO convergence will have two parts, Peterson said. Around 2009, there will be a relatively short-term contract to move to DKO, followed by a longer-term follow-on contract for the framework to sit under the portal, he said.

A joint effort to develop similar requirements for DKO, NCES and GCSS-AF is underway, he added. The earliest that all services could be integrated on DKO is 2010, Peterson also said.

The Navy plans to consolidate its portals into an integrated Navy Enterprise Portal before moving to DKO. This consolidation began in October 2006 and will continue through 2008, according to a document titled “Navy Portal Rationalization and DKO Vision,” obtained by Federal Computer Week.

The Navy will take advantage of DKO enterprise services, but will keep Navy- unique services on its enterprise portal, which will be accessible through DKO, the document states. The Navy has more than 80 portals deployed now, serving about 800,000 users.

DKO must also address Navy concerns, according to the document. The Navy’s movement to join DKO depends on four conditions, it states that:
  • NCES must be available at the start of the migration.
  • Interoperability must be tested.
  • DKO hosting infrastructure must be expanded to accommodate Navy expansion.
  • Costs of migration must be identified.

Meanwhile, the Army has begun opening AKO to members of the other services, allowing unsponsored access for 145,000 joint users. The Army calls this the first phase of DKO.

New account holders will be able to access AKO’s applications, content and services, including e-mail, video e-mail, instant messaging, chat and collaboration services, the Army said in a press release.

In the near term, DKO is adding capabilities for use by the Army, DISA and the Joint Forces Command. Over time, DKO will integrate best-of-breed capabilities and functionality from other existing service portals, the release states.

“The goal is a mature DKO in 2009,” Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle, Army CIO, said in the release.

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