SERVICE ORIENTATED ARCHTECTURES: BRINGING NETWORKED CAPABILITIES TO THE BATTLEFIELD
By Rick Holt, Director of UK Information Superiority, Lockheed Martin UK
Modern warfare demands broader uses of existing systems as well as evolving technologies. Network-oriented defence concepts – such as Network-Enabled Capabilities and Network-Centric Warfare – are about connecting and extending military capabilities. A number of new systems predicated on these concepts will help bring the military’s vision of networked warfare to fruition. Agile land platforms, advanced aircraft, and networked radio systems are among the many capabilities that will use information technologies to powerful effect on the battlefield.
The military has made significant accomplishments to develop a truly net-centric environment; one where information flows seamlessly across a comprehensive web of military assets. A number of changes in the way the military thinks about building its information systems has brought forces closer than ever to realizing this level of network connectivity. The emergence of asymmetric, global security threats from terrorists and other organizations prescribes capabilities suitable for an array of unpredictable missions. A network must be responsive enough to support communications linkages among unanticipated entities, for unimagined purposes. The service-oriented architecture (SOA) model was developed to achieve this kind of agility and flexibility.
A Bridge to Net-Enabled Capability
Designed and developed using nonproprietary standards, government guidance and business rules, SOA implementations are easily compatible with other architectures that follow the same approach. This means that a system built with a service-oriented architecture can interface with and leverage the information services of other SOA-based systems. The SOA model provides a basis for accessing an expansive network of legacy and new information services.
Today, many older military systems incorporate tightly coupled “stovepiped” designs that make system changes difficult and sometimes expensive. With an SOA-based approach and a network, warfighters can connect with a variety of applications hosted by defence agencies, nongovernmental organizations or even commercial entities on the Internet.
With its software-centric, open architecture, the SOA model allows for the adoption of proven commercial methods and technology that lower risk and costs through easy technology growth and compatibility with future systems. Clearly defined SOA standards serve as a guide for adapting military institutions and organizations to better support the development of systems that lack clear boundaries, but offer unlimited mission possibilities.
Taking Advantage of Commercial Technology
As a public model for building system architecture, SOA has enabled services of all kinds to proliferate on the World Wide Web, including banking, shopping and travel planning. As a tool from commercial industry, SOA brings other advantages that are equally critical to the successful fielding of networked capabilities.
The ability to build on commercial technology can translate into enormous savings for the defence industry when compared to military-unique solutions. Off-the-shelf solutions can result in easy and affordable upgrades to deployed systems. Because systems integration in an SOA environment is a matter of writing software code at system interfaces, adding new capabilities is cost-effective. In these ways, the SOA model supports the continual evolution of a network-based solution that is always capable of accepting the latest technology upgrades and avoiding obsolescence.
There are other benefits related to the fact that an SOA model makes use of published standards and shared business rules. Developers can reuse open system architecture over and over again, building on their own lessons learned and refining their business processes. This clearly saves resou