Krieger preaches SOA gospel

Converting the nation’s defense and intelligence agencies to more efficient ways of storing and sharing critical information is something of a crusade for Michael Krieger, principal director of Information Management and Technology in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.

Preaching to the choir at a breakfast today, Krieger called on industry executives to support the Defense Department’s net-centric vision. The goal, he said, is to create information networks that will allow authorized users belonging to communities of interest—combat troops, commanders, support personnel--to access relevant data whenever and wherever they need it.

Input Inc., a research firm, hosted the event in Vienna, Va.

Krieger emphasized the five touchstones of the Defense Department’s net-centric strategy released in 2003. Data must be visible, he said, meaning that users can find it; it has to be accessible to authorized users and be understandable through use of a common vocabulary; the data must be trusted so that users are comfortable with sharing and using it; finally, in a joint environment, the process must be governable.

Making the leap will require organizations to abandon the entrenched habit of storing information in legacy systems’ hardened silos and sharing it exclusively through authorized point-to-point connections.

Numerous barriers impede the transition to enterprise architecture: distrust among organizations, fear of compromised data, lack of funds and inflexible acquisitions processes that institutionalize obsolescence.

“I have an acquisitions system that doesn’t encourage enterprise,” Krieger said. “I need small, quick [requests for proposals] that are 75 percent solutions. Every five-year program I do is obsolete in two years.”

At times, organizations are wary of buying into a government enterprise solution that would provide little recourse for addressing grievances arising from poor performance. By comparison, private vendors are bound by service level agreements that spell out customers’ options when performance flags.

To encourage adoption of net-centric services, Krieger advocates providing some IT services at no cost for a period of five years, including an enterprise portal that the Army will lead, content-staging services and content discovery.

After a few budget cycles, Krieger said, that approach would win many over to his side.

“I want to make them free,” he said. “If you want to buy your own out of a declining budget, knock yourself out.”

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