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…we’re going to a dance.*

By Chris Suckling, Fujitsu

How not to build an SOA for information

That old WW1 communications tale still resonates today. Information accuracy has at least as much influence as firepower on the outcome of a battle.

Not that our forces are short of facts. It’s said that 90% of the information a frontline commander needs already exists. Somewhere. The trick is to find it, collate it and deliver it NOW, in a way that makes decisions easier and victory surer. It’s one of the keys to Network Enabled Capability.
To bring this about we’ll need a holistic view of the MOD’s information sources and requirements (an enterprise approach to information) plus a practical attitude to the development of a Services Oriented Information Architecture.

Many great minds, both inside MOD and among its partners, are engaged on these ideas. As a service to everyone involved, Fujitsu offers a checklist of what NOT to do.

1. Don’t throw out the legacy yet

An enterprise information architecture won’t happen overnight. Develop a detailed roadmap of the journey from your current, isolated applications and consider the fact that you’ll need a number of interim stages that integrate your legacy into the future view.

2. Don’t buy new stovepipes

The idea is to move away from unconnected applications, so when someone offers you a single product or solution, make sure it’s not just a shiny new stovepipe.

3. Don’t wear procurement blinkers

Procurement has to happen project-by-project, of course. But all projects must integrate into the new architecture. Think broadly when drawing up requirements. Always keep the furthest boundaries of the problem in mind.

4. Don’t depend on one vendor

You might be locked in to systems or processes that become increasingly irrelevant as situations change. Vendor-neutrality avoids undue reliance on one supplier and usually results in lower whole life costs.

5. Don’t be ‘closed’

You don’t know what information sources might be available in the future, so don’t build or buy a system or architecture that won’t integrate with anything and everything. The key word is ‘open’.

6. Don’t ignore agility

It’s rule No 1. Every operation is different, with different environments, needs and threats. Whatever the circumstances, commanders must get inside the enemy’s decision cycle. So don’t design or buy architectures that aren’t built around the idea that the unexpected is certain to happen and the impossible will follow soon after.

7. Don’t forget the infrastructure

Whatever form the enterprise information architecture takes, it will run on DII, so make sure you work with people who know the infrastructure backwards.

8. Don’t risk leaks

The more people that can access information, the better an SOA performs. But this is war, and security is paramount. Always be sure you’re working with partners who understand security and have a track record of delivering watertight systems.

9. Don’t expect budgets to go anywhere but down

Bespoke solutions, built from unique, proprietary components are history. Find a partner who knows open systems and off the shelf components. You’ll save money now, and you’ll save it again and again in the future, every time something has to change.

10. Don’t read this if you already know Fujitsu

Fujitsu takes a practical approach to service oriented information architecture. We’re vendor neutral – selecting components from many sources on one basis only – that they solve the problem. We’re experienced, having developed openJOP for JC2SP and currently working as tier 1 on DII. Our secure information management expertise is proven in HQ and frontline situations all over the world. And we’ve been around for over 40 years, so we know your legacy estate, and we know how to help you transition to the future without putting people or performance at risk.

*The original tale is probably apocryphal.

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