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Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

US Defense Department Goes 'Primitive;' Fortifies SOAs

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I met Dennis Wisnosky, the business mission area chief technical officer and chief architect at the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer at the US Department of Defense, at last year's SOA Symposium.

Along with incredible charity work, he has been working tirelessly at bringing a common set of standards and protocols to the DoD's procurement and administrative systems, as well as service-oriented principles, and his work is worth emulating across the private sector.

Dennis was recently interviewed by Rutrell Yasin of DefenseSystems.com about the progress of the effort. The problem for the Defense Department's Business Transformation Agency was engineers and developers tended to work in silos, and end up developing systems that duplicate services and have propriety interfaces that can't work easily with other systems.

The solution has been the development of concepts called Primitives, Common Vocabulary and Design Patterns, according to Yasin's report. The Department of Defense Architecture Framework 2.0 is the foundation for architecture Primitives. Primitives are a standard set of viewing elements and associated symbols mapped to the framework's Meta-Model concepts and applied to viewing techniques.

According to Wisnosky, BTA is applying Primitives based on Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN). Also, "the idea of Primitives fits nicely into service-oriented architecture," Wisnosky said. "SOA represents the first time in the information technology world where it is clear how IT and business fit together. So an SOA pattern made up of Primitives that are associated with business processes could execute those business processes with standard services."

There's been a lot of SOA developments emerging within the US Defense Department. In another piece of news, a new cybersecurity initiative sponsored by the US Air Force seeks to harden service oriented architectures against outside threats. 

Sami Lais, writing in Washington Technology, says a five-year, $2.9 million Air Force Research Laboratory award "could change the way DoD -- perhaps the world -- approaches information security."

How is this so? Lais says the USAF's Advanced Protected Services program is gearing up to "enable networks to withstand attacks that are as yet unknown, limit the effectiveness of the attacks, slow the attackers' progress by building multiple layers they have to penetrate, let them diagnose the attack more quickly," and "help them react and recover more quickly and completely."

Jim Loyall of BBN Technologies, chief scientist and program manager on the project, is working with a team that is concentrating on developing new approaches to better protect DoD SOAs against malicious attacks. The team is building extensions to the middleware stacks in SOA, and using strategies such as creating "crumple zones," or proxy layers between the service and users allows different users to share the same services. "Users go into this initial buffer area, where much of the service functionality is repeated," Loyall is quoted as saying. "If an attack succeeds, it'll get some initial success, but it won't go past that proxy layer to the service itself, and other users will be uncompromised by the attack."

In this blog (formerly known as "SOA in Action"), Joe McKendrick examines how BPM and related business and IT approaches can promote business transformation.

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more

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