Service branches take different routes to KM

Service branches take different routes to KM

There are three main military branches'different in style and mission'and there are three approaches to IT transformation.

The Army, Air Force and Navy each has a unique approach to retaining and managing knowledge.

Each has its own approach to modernizing and consolidating IT systems and applications.

The Navy has its wide-reaching, $6.9 billion Navy-Marine Corps Intranet outsourcing program, which will convert 200 networks into a single intranet. Electronic Data Systems Corp. was the chosen contractor to perform the work.

The Army sees knowledge management as a way to centralize systems management at about two dozen major commands under the CIO's office.

The Air Force portal will consolidate hundreds of disparate legacy data systems at 110 bases into a single decentralized point of access.

In the end, each of the service branches will have achieved its overall mission to become quicker, more agile and more effective.

'There are an awful lot of similarities,' explained John Gilligan, deputy Air Force CIO. 'It may be said that the approach chosen by each of the services really builds on the strengths and the needs.'

For example, Gilligan said, the Navy chose such a broad approach because, prior to NMCI, it had not invested a lot in its shore-based infrastructure.

'The Navy also did not have a lot of organic manpower on shore bases,' Gilligan added. 'Their manpower was on their ships.'

The Air Force, in contrast, has invested substantially in its infrastructure and can now do most of its IT work in-house, Gilligan said.

The Air Force will use middleware to merge about 700 legacy databases. The portal will reside on the Air Force Global Combat Support System's integration framework. It is based on open industry standards and uses a portal architecture developed by Mitre Corp. of Bedford, Mass., that allows the software to run successfully on multiple operating systems.

Know the costs

'We want to build on the strengths of the Air Force. We want to make sure we understand our costs before we outsource it,' he said.

Beyond that, the approaches between all of the services are similar, Gilligan said.

'I would say our approach has elements of both the Navy's program and what we see the Army doing,' he said. 'We are consolidating our servers and our networks on one structure and initially we're doing this on each base. In doing this we're establishing an Air Force-wide architecture. This is very similar to NMCI. The Army is just starting.'

In February, the Army will begin consolidating its systems into a single servicewide enterprise, said Miriam Browning, the Army's principal director for enterprise integration. The service plans to finish this systems realignment by Oct. 1 next year.

Enterprise level

'This is about managing IT in the Army at the enterprise level, not each [individual] level,' Browning said. 'We want to get to the Internet age and do it quickly.'

What's driving this? Officials said the move will save money and free up military personnel for their core missions.

'It's an economic issue,' Gilligan said. 'We're doing it to free up people and dollars. Secondly, it was operationally ineffective to have separately managed systems. The emphasis, from my perspective, is we're all consolidating. We're all getting a hand on the dollar.'

In addition, the technology is now robust enough to support wide-scale consolidation, Gilligan said. 'Seven years ago the technology did not support consolidating to the same scale,' he said.

Defense officials add that there are tremendous benefits to consolidation in security. When there's one seamless network, it's easier to ward off viruses and to put patches in quickly.

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