Techipedia's development was a rapid, if sometimes rough, ride

GCN Awards DODTechipedia, the wiki-based suite of services designed to get innovative technologies rapidly into the hands of military service members, may have come together at “light speed” but that doesn’t mean the road wasn’t rocky.

Development work was done on a rapid pace but it wasn't easy, said Christopher Thomas, chief technology officer of the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC), which helped develop and now hosts DOD Techipedia.

For example, there were technical challenges with single sign-on tools and concerns about security and cross-agency collaboration, said Noel Dickover, a contractor who specializes in emerging technologies and social software media in DOD’s Office of the Chief Information Officer.

DTIC started work on the beta version in June 2008 and launched it ithat October. Several months later, in February 2009, DTIC and partner agencies unveiled, a public portal through which companies, entrepreneurs and research organizations can offer ideas on potential technologies that might meet DOD needs. The classified version of DODTechipedia debuted in April 2009.

DTIC developed the DOD Techipedia wiki by using Confluence, a development tool from Atlassian. Confluence was chosen because it is based on Java and integrates with DTIC’s Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)-based user management system.

The wiki registration process takes advantage of the LDAP registration system. On the unclassified network, registration is simplified by using the DOD Common Access Card, which can be used to log on to the wiki. DTIC uses Siteminder to provide a single sign-on to DOD Techipedia and other applications.

DOD Techipedia uses the open-source MySQL database to reduce database costs, and runs on Sun Microsystems servers that are standard throughout the DTIC hosting environment.

The amount of work put into developing Techipedia from June to October, and quickly following with a classified piece, was a tremendous effort, Dickoversaid.

And it is important to note that for those involved, developing and maintaining Techipedia is not their primary job, Thomas said. The Defense Research and Engineering allocated several million dollars for the initial work. Developers from DTIC, DDR&E as well as DOD's CIO are contributing to efforts to develop and maintain Techipedia.

But everyone involved feels that they want to make a difference, making sure that soldiers, sailors and other military service members have the technology they need to perform their tasks -- which enhanced cooperation among the agencies involved, Thomas said.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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