DOD builds on GIG blueprint

Defense employees must understand that the GIG is the department's overarching architecture, John Osterholz says.

Henrik G. de Gyor

Architecture and modernization projects will merge to keep it simple

The Defense Department is merging its troubled Business Systems Modernization effort with its Global Information Grid architecture project to reduce confusion and ensure compliance with standards, said John Osterholz, the director of architectures and interoperability in the department's CIO office.

The goal is to make sure Defense employees understand that the GIG is the department's overarching architecture and all other architecture efforts must mesh with its blueprint, he said.

'We have to make sure we have one set of compliance standards, otherwise it will decrease the success of the architecture,' Osterholz said. 'The business system architecture always was subordinate to GIG, but we wanted a more seamless connection between the business and the warfighting systems. We wanted to elevate it into the GIG architecture directly.'

William Phillips, defense industry leader for IBM Corp., DOD's lead contractor on BSM, said the business architecture always was a part of the GIG.

'If you look at the GIG, there are no other business systems,' he said. 'The BSM is the business part of the GIG, and we have been trying to reduce the confusion and make sure the blueprints of the GIG and BSM are meshed.'

Defense CIO John Stenbit recently approved Version 1.0 of the new DOD Enterprise Architecture Framework, which replaces the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Core Architecture data model. C4SIR has been in use since 1997, Osterholz said.

He said teams are meeting weekly to merge the GIG and business architecture efforts, and work should take about six months. Enterprise architects already have mapped the modernization plans at a high level to determine gaps or inconsistencies in how the two architecture efforts describe business functions.

Project under fire

The business systems work has come under fire over the past few months from the General Accounting Office, DOD inspector general, former Defense officials and enterprise architecture experts.

GAO described the business architecture as difficult to navigate and missing key elements. The IG said officials have not defined the term 'business management system' or established a systems inventory for the modernization effort.

Osterholz said the problems are not overly serious. The architecture team must figure out whether there are substantive problems or whether it is a matter of clearing confusion between the GIG and business architectures, he said.

'The comptroller is very important in our world, and we want to make sure we have the best tools available to make decisions,' Osterholz said. 'By bringing the business architecture into GIG, we will make that process stronger.'

Phillips said IBM still is working with DOD to ensure the seven business domains are mapped correctly.

'We want to make sure we have the domain processes right before they become the framework for the future,' he said. 'We are heading toward a picture of what the business systems need to look like by working with the domain owners.'

'This is a very difficult challenge for DOD,' Phillips said. 'It is causing people to do things they don't want to do so the level of noise around the program is high. But we are making progress, and the collaboration within DOD is maturing.'

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