Advanced Systems Understanding has been providing technical support and thought leadership for over three years to the NATO Communications & Information Agency (NCIA) on behalf of the UK MOD at the Architecture Working Group. This group was established to coordinate the Mission Networks built to support military operations in Afghanistan. The challenge was to align Architectural Methods and Conventions across the 63 nations contributing to the International Security Assistance Force (Afghanistan).
The Architecture Working Group enabled the provision of coherent network enabled capabilities. The first challenge was to move the recording of details of equipment laydowns and software versions out of the Configuration Management space and begin the process of generating an Enterprise Architecture. Once the approach to Architecture was settled, the next step was to establish a common modelling environment and this involved de-laminating National endeavours conducted in a wide range of Modelling and Architecture tools. It was necessary to establish Methods and Conventions for ways of working that enabled trust to be established between Architects that the underpinning modelling had been conducted properly in National Tools before to results of analysis were introduced to a NATO owned multinationally used Enterprise Architecture repository. Would you trust an Architect who told you that foundations would not be necessary for your house?
Support to the NCIA’s architecture repository involved practical Model Driven Systems Engineering and Architecture. Coalition Mission Threads were modelled in exquisite details in order to identify where improvements in the configuration, management or use of computer systems and all of the associated military capability were necessary to reduce self-inflicted casualties in the fog of war. Modelling the Enterprise revealed significant training issues as well as the more obvious distorting of information as it passed through the “Chinese Whispers” of moving through multiple national networks. It may be obvious that German’s speaking to the Spanish who work with the French but have to use the Italians to talk the Australians in order to get the Americans to do something might involve a change of message but include many different computers and applications in the mix and you begin to understand the complexity of the problem. Add to this the fact that someone might die if it goes wrong and you begin to understand just how rigorous the Methods and Conventions of Enterprise Architecture must be.