Net-centric consortium begins work

Executives from 28 companies in the United States and Europe have formed a consortium to build interoperable systems for the Defense Department and other government agencies.

The Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium, which includes Boeing Co., General Dynamics Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp., officially formed last month to work out standards and guidelines so that all networked platforms could seamlessly communicate.

Carl O'Berry, chairman of the consortium's executive council and vice president of strategic architecture at Chicago-based Boeing, said yesterday the group was formed in response to 'a cry for help' from government customers who needed aid in spelling out the requirements for interoperable, network-centric systems.

'There are hundreds of communication infrastructures in place and rarely can they interoperate,' O'Berry said.

Working with an advisory council of government representatives, the consortium will attempt to define an architectural approach, based on open standards, which companies can use so their platforms, systems and applications work with other global systems. The consortium's findings will be made public and can be used by members and nonmembers alike.

Membership in the consortium is tiered, based on the amount of money a company contributes. A position in the top tier, which will wield influence over the consortium's governance, requires an annual contribution of $150,000. Officials declined to say which companies belonged in each tier.

Executives were quick to point out that cooperation did not preclude competition.

'We're going to compete like hell,' O'Berry said. The goal of the consortium, however, is to avoid competing on the standards level.

Terry Morgan, net-centric defense strategist for consortium member Cisco Systems Inc. said, 'We're all trying to do right in a competitive world.'

Other consortium members are: BAE Systems North America Inc., CACI International Inc., Carrillo Business Technologies Inc., European Aeronautical Defence and Space Co., EMC Corp., Ericsson, Factiva, Finmeccanica, Hewlett-Packard Co., Honeywell International Inc., IBM Corp., Innerwall Inc., L-3 Communications Corp., Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp., Raytheon Co., Rockwell Collins Inc., Saab AB, Science Applications International Corp., Smiths Aerospace, Sun Microsystems Inc., Thales Group, and Themis Computer Inc.


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