Army will expand access to its AKO portal

Army will expand access to its AKO portal

Users learned about online courses from the Army Knowledge Online portal and signed up in record numbers.

The Army's computer-based training program has attracted steady interest for years. But when the service recently announced a training initiative on the front page of the Army Knowledge Online portal, 20,000 people signed up in one week.

A similar response ensued when the personnel and promotion board linked to the portal. About 25,000 noncommissioned officers hit the site to look at their records.

The reaction shows the portal's reach and the power of knowledge management, Army officials said.
'It was something we had not previously experienced, especially within a week,' said Col. Bob Coxe, chief technology officer for the Army. 'It was a huge leap.'

The service hoped to extend the portal's influence even further when it signed an agreement last month with Appian Corp. of Vienna, Va., to increase the scalability of the AKO site to 1.2 million users. It now hosts 875,000 users, Coxe said.

Appian also will help increase the portal's capacity to handle more users simultaneously, Coxe said.

The Army wants the full 1.2 million users on the portal by June. That figure includes active-duty members, reservists, National Guard soldiers and civilian employees. By July, the Army plans to have all of its applications behind the portal, Coxe said.

The contract was negotiated through Appian's General Services Administration schedule contract, allowing the Army to buy services by the hour.

AKO is built on Appian's Nexus portal framework. The Army also uses Art Technology Group's Dynamo Scenario Server. The Cambridge, Mass., company's personalization software lets Army personnel tailor bulk messages to specific commands or jobs.

All for one

'The personalization aspect of it was a very strong reason that we wanted to buy ATG,' Coxe said, adding that the Army selected the Appian framework for its flexibility, scalability and speed.

The Nexus platform is compatible with all major database management systems and is Java-compliant, Coxe said.

AKO is part of the Army's massive IT transformation initiative to link both the tactical and business sides of the service, Coxe said. It is a government-owned, contractor-operated portal maintained at Fort Belvoir, Va.

Army brass have required personnel to open an AKO account, Coxe said. The portal features free Web-based email, Army news, banking information, other Web services and more than 8,000 links to Army information and initiatives.

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