Welcome!

Virtualization Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Dana Gardner, Liz McMillan, Vormetric Blog, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: SOA & WOA, Websphere, Weblogic, Oracle, SAP, HP, Red Hat

SOA & WOA: Blog Post

Net-Centricity: SOA in Battle

How the Department of Defense's Net-Centricity is fundamentally Service-Oriented, and how to take a page out of their playbook

ZapThink recently conducted our Licensed ZapThink Architect Bootcamp course for a branch of the United States Department of Defense (DoD). As it happens, an increasing proportion of our US-based business is for the DoD, which is perfectly logical, given the strategic nature Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) plays for the DoD. SOA is so strategic, in fact, that SOA underlies how the DoD expects to achieve its mission in the 21st century -- namely, defending US interests by presenting the most powerful military presence on the globe. Furthermore, the story of how SOA became so strategic for the DoD provides insight into the power of SOA for all organizations, both in the public and private sector.

This story begins with the issue of complexity. The DoD, as you might imagine, is an organization of astounding complexity, perhaps the most complex organization in the world, save the US Federal Government itself of which the DoD is indubitably the most complex part. And with complexity comes vulnerability. As the sole remaining global superpower, the US's strength in battle, namely our overwhelming force, presents vulnerabilities to much smaller enemies. Traditional guerrilla tactics give small forces advantages over large ones, after all. Our 21st century adversaries understand full well the ancient principle of using an enemy's strengths against them. The DoD is rightly concerned that its sheer scale and complexity present weaknesses that today's terrorism-centric threats can take advantage of.

From the Network to Service Orientation
Even before 9/11, there was an understanding that the core challenge that this complexity presented was one of information: who has it, how to share it, and how to rely upon it to make decisions -- in military parlance, Command and Control (C2). In response to this need, the DoD instituted a new strategic program, Network Centric Warfare, also known as Net-Centricity. The idea for Network Centric Warfare arose during the late 1990s in response to the rise of the Internet. Its original concepts, therefore, were essentially "Web 1.0" in nature. It didn't take long, however, for DoD architects to realize that the network itself was only a piece of the puzzle, and it soon became clear that the challenges of Net-Centricity were as much organizational as technological. After all, Net-Centricity requires cooperation across the different branches of service -- a tall order for an organization as siloed as the DoD.

In fact, as the DoD and their contractors hammered out the details of Net-Centricity, it became increasingly clear that Net-Centricity required a broad, architectural approach to achieving agile information sharing in the context of a complex, siloed organization. At that point, SOA entered the Net-Centricity picture, providing essential best practices for sharing information resources to support business process needs. In the military context, such business processes are operational processes, where the operation at hand might be fueling airplanes or deploying ground troops or spying on suspected terrorists with a satellite. When battlefield commanders say that they want the warfighting resources at their disposal to be available as needed to achieve their mission objectives, they are essentially requiring a Service-Oriented approach to Net-Centricity.

Information as a Strategic Military Asset
Information has always been a part of warfare, since the stone age or even earlier. Essentially, the element of surprise boils down to one force having information the other does not, regardless of whether you're sneaking up on a foe with a club or leveraging satellite technology to precisely target an attack. The same is true of Net-Centricity. Net-Centricity centers on supporting the military's C2 capabilities by ensuring the right information is in the right place at the right time. These three dimensions all create a path toward SOA:

  • The right information: commanders on the battlefield need all relevant information. It is essential to have access to relevant information from different forces, different locations, and different branches of service. Furthermore, commanders need a way to separate relevant information from the surrounding noise. And finally, they must ensure that the information is reliable.
  • In the right place: today's warfare is an inherently distributed endeavor. Gone are the days where armies fight each other on single fields of battle. Today, commanders might call upon forces from hundreds of miles away, on land, at sea, in the air, or in space. Furthermore, the people who need the information might be anywhere. For example, a navy ship may get the information it needs to target a missile from air support, satellite-based intelligence, and ground capabilities. The commander needs one view while the troops on the battlefield need another.
  • At the right time: information is perishable. The more dynamic the purpose of that information, the more perishable it becomes. Knowing where your enemies are right now is far more valuable then where they were an hour or a day ago.

If you've been following ZapThink for any amount of time, you'll recognize these business drivers as being a recipe for SOA. It's no surprise, therefore that the Global Information Grid (GIG), a central Net-Centric capability, is inherently Service-Oriented. The GIG essentially consists of a set of Services that provide the underpinnings of the right information at the right place at the right time, as the figure below illustrates.

Source: SAIC

The Global Information Grid

There are a few features of the GIG worth noting. First, note how the core notion of a Service pervades the GIG. Every capability, from security to messaging to management, is represented as a Service. Secondly, keep in mind the global nature of the GIG. This is not a solitary data center; the GIG represents global IT capabilities across all branches of service for the entire DoD.

Today, the stakes for Net-Centricity couldn't be higher, because information itself proffers a new set of weapons, and even new battlefields. As a result, Net-Centricity focuses not only on leveraging shared IT capabilities to gain an advantage on both large and small opponents using traditional tactics, it also covers protecting our forces from information-based attacks as well as launching our own. After all, if a small but smart opponent combines traditional guerrilla warfare with the information-centric guerrilla tactics we now call cyberwarfare, our vulnerabilities multiply. If a single opponent with an improvised explosive device can wound us, what about a single opponent with a means to interfere with our communications infrastructure?

The ZapThink Take
There are lessons here for our readers both within the DoD as well as at other organizations, including those within the private sector, where the battles are economic. For DoD readers, it's important to recognize the importance of SOA to Net-Centricity, in particular how the architecture required to succeed with Net-Centricity is the true SOA that ZapThink talks about, where organizational transformation is a greater challenge than the technological issues that organizations face.

For other organizations, the lesson here is how to take a page out of the DoD's playbook. Net-Centricity is by no means the first example of how a DoD project led to broad commercial application; after all, the Internet itself is a case in point. In the DoD we have an organization with both a mind-boggling complexity problem and enormous resources, both financial and human, to assign to the problem. Sharing information across lines of business in a bank or manufacturer or power utility is child's play in comparison to getting the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines to share information effectively.

Furthermore, as ZapThink continues its work within the DoD, we can help act as a conduit for conveying the best practices of Net-Centricity to the private sector, as well as other government organizations. You'll see evidence of Net-Centric lessons learned in both our LZA Bootcamp as well as our new SOA & Cloud Governance course. The more complex your organization, the more a Net-Centric approach to achieving your strategic goals is a useful context for your SOA efforts, and ZapThink can help.

Finally, some organizations may find the concept of Net-Centricity to be a useful synonym for SOA. If you're having trouble explaining the benefits of SOA to a business audience, perhaps a discussion of Net-Centricity will help to shed the light on the approach you're recommending. After all, not only does Net-Centricity focus on effective information sharing in a complex environment, it also distills the urgency and importance of the military context, where the enemy is literally trying to kill us. Competition in the marketplace may not be a literal life-or-death battle, but leveraging best practice approaches to fighting such battles that treat them as though they were truly about survival is an attitude that any seasoned business stakeholder can take to heart.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@ThingsExpo Stories
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
There is no doubt that Big Data is here and getting bigger every day. Building a Big Data infrastructure today is no easy task. There are an enormous number of choices for database engines and technologies. To make things even more challenging, requirements are getting more sophisticated, and the standard paradigm of supporting historical analytics queries is often just one facet of what is needed. As Big Data growth continues, organizations are demanding real-time access to data, allowing immediate and actionable interpretation of events as they happen. Another aspect concerns how to deliver ...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP and chief architect at BSQUARE Corporation; Seth Proctor, CTO of NuoDB, Inc.; and Andris Gailitis, C...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
In this Women in Technology Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO at MetraTech; Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems; Seema Jethani, Director of Product Management at Basho Technologies; Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Qubell Inc.; Anne Hungate, Senior Director of Software Quality at DIRECTV, discussed what path they took to find their spot within the technology industry and how do they see opportunities for other women in their area of expertise.
Wearable devices have come of age. The primary applications of wearables so far have been "the Quantified Self" or the tracking of one's fitness and health status. We propose the evolution of wearables into social and emotional communication devices. Our BE(tm) sensor uses light to visualize the skin conductance response. Our sensors are very inexpensive and can be massively distributed to audiences or groups of any size, in order to gauge reactions to performances, video, or any kind of presentation. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Jocelyn Scheirer, CEO & Founder of Bionolux, will discuss ho...
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...
“With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, founder & CEO of PubNub. PubNub will team with Atmel at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for Atmel’s MCU, MPU, and Wireless SoC platforms. Atmel developers now have access to PubNub’s secure Publish/Subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy ser...