Air Force, Army portal elements may merge

Elements of the Air Force portal may be combined with features of Army Knowledge Online as the Department of Defense migrates towards a Defense-wide information gateway, according to an Air Force official.

Lt. Gen. Michael Peterson, the Air Force CIO, briefing reporters at the Air Force IT Day in McLean, Va., Jan. 17, said that the strengths of each portal fit together well.

'I love the capabilities that Army Knowledge Online brings to soldiers,' Peterson said. 'The Army has emphasized what the portal does but without building it on a technical framework underneath.'

AKO, begun in October 2000, has expanded from its initial 97,000 users to 1.8 million account holders at present, according to the AKO Outreach Team.

The Air Force portal, by contrast, which began in 1996 and now has 800,000 users, was built around a 'mandatory technical integration architecture,' Peterson said.

The Global Combat Support System-Air Force enterprise architecture represents a set of technical standards around which Air Force information systems and applications are built. The purpose, said Peterson, is to integrate Air Force combat support system activities and to lower their cost of ownership.

'We have already migrated many systems to this architecture,' he said. 'We have a great governance structure that emphasizes application integration and interoperability.'

The ultimate goal is to have all departmental information managed under the single umbrella of the Defense Information System Agency's Defense Knowledge Online project, Peterson said.

The Air Force portal, currently managed by Akamai, will likely be recompeted at the end of that vendor's two-year contract, he said.

'I wouldn't be surprised if there is not a larger contract competed at that time,' Peterson said. 'Akamai will have the leverage to make a great bid for the contract ' but the ultimate winner may or may not be Akamai.'

About the Author

Peter Buxbaum is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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