DOD's shared interest
The Defense Department and a number of other agencies have joined a Defense Interest Group established by the networking industry to create the TM Forum for sharing best practices and for collaboration between DOD and the supporting vendors
THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT and several other agencies have joined a
Defense Interest Group established by the networking industry to
provide a forum for sharing best practices and enhancing
collaboration between DOD and the vendors that support its
communications infrastructure and applications.
The TM Forum established the interest group in June and added a
DIG workshop and session track at its Management World 2008
conference in Orlando in November.
“DOD has made an investment in TM Forum standards and
membership,” said Bob Natale, principal engineer at Mitre and
co-chairman of DIG. “The Defense Interest Group provides a
valuable tool for improved return on investment for the DOD. Our
goal in the DOD community is to improve services delivered to the
Other governmental members of DIG include the Homeland Security
Department, NATO and NASA, which helps support some DOD satellite
communications. The TM in the forum’s name used to stand for
telecommunications management, said Ken Dilbeck, the forum’s
vice president of collaboration programs.
However, the industry association moved away from that name as
it expanded its interests beyond telecom to include the converging
cable, Internet and networking industries. Government participation
has emerged in recent years because agencies have seen a growing
overlap between their needs and concerns and those of commercial
carriers and service providers, Dilbeck said.
Taking advantage of industry expertise is in line with
DOD’s effort to use commercial products and services whenever
possible, said Manuel Hermosilla, chief of the Operational Support
Systems Division at the Defense Information Systems Agency.
“We’re not trying to develop our own thing,”
said Hermosilla, DOD’s leader for TM Forum participation.
“We treat it like any [commercial] product. We want to use
what is available.”
What is available from the TM Forum is a standardized way of
defining and talking about network management and operations.
“We don’t go down to the interface level that talks
to the hardware,” Dilbeck said.
The forum develops frameworks that help systems and enterprises
interact and exchange information. It’s more than a casual
agreement on definitions, Dilbeck added. “It is an accurate
portrayal of accepted business processes, an abstraction of those
processes, broken down to enable integration.”
The language and frameworks are not specific to a company or
business but instead refer to the network operations common to all
of them. That is important in a network-centric environment in
which systems are increasingly integrated and called on to
cooperate, Hermosilla said.
“It’s a new way of doing business,” he said.
“It is hard. You are faced with so many interfaces for each
DOD began working with the TM Forum in 2003, during the Global
Information Grid Bandwidth Expansion program, a DISA initiative to
expand the capacity and reliability of the existing GIG.
“We had a lot of network management systems we had to
integrate, and the TM Forum sounded like a good match for
us,” Hermosilla said.
The new and improved GIG reached full operational capability in
December 2005. In 2006, Hermosilla became chief of the new
Operational Support Systems Division, which sought to integrate all
the information systems within the Defense Information Systems
Network. DISN serves as GIG’s backbone.
Forum specifications relevant to the defense community
- Enhanced Telecom Operations Map (eTOM), a business process
model for information and communications technology service
providers that outlines how to support complex network operations
environments. They include acquisitions, configuration, deployment,
changes to and removal of services, and billing.
- Shared Information/Data model, an information- and
data-modeling methodology for service providers that corresponds to
- TM Forum Interface Program (TIP), which integrates multiple
forum interface methodologies.
- Telecom Applications Map.
- Service Delivery Framework.
- New Generation Operations Systems and Software, for common
“Having this generic vocabulary helps the customers talk with
the service providers and systems integrators and helps them to
understand their business process needs,” Dilbeck said.
TIP was one of the key tools in the DISN integration. It helped
administrators define what information the network management tools
needed to exchange, where it was and who owned it, and it allowed
the applications to access that information as needed. The tool
also let administrators establish a standard interface with one
interface per application rather than one for every data source
connected to it.
“I don’t see it changing the way we operate the
network,” Hermosilla said.
The forum simply addresses the way systems exchange information,
in the same way a network carrier would. DOD has some special needs
for DISN, and the forum’s frameworks are tweaked and
extensions added as needed, he said, “but basically,
we’re a carrier.”