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Defence industry opening up to Open Architecture

Judy Cerenzia is the director of Collaboration Services at the Open Group, a US organisation providing services to consortia comprised of government agencies and suppliers with the goal of assisting them in meeting the demands of moving to an open system approach. Defence IQ’s Richard de Silva spoke with her to get a better idea as to how this work is changing the face of the defence industry…Judy, rather than try to do this justice myself could I ask you to perhaps tell us a bit more about the Open Group before we begin? Who do you work with, how are you engaging with those partners in the government or indeed with the private industry to essentially smooth the road for Open Architecture?

Yes, I can do that. The Open Group is a global consortium in itself that enables achievement of business objective through IT Standard, Open Standards enabling Open Architectures. We have more than 400 member organisations and 8,000 individual participants. We have a diverse membership that spans all sectors of the IT community and we have customers, systems and solution suppliers, tool vendors, integrators, consultants as well as academic researchers. They all work together to capture, understand and address current and emerging requirements, establish policies and share best practices for IT related applications as well as development of open standards for open architectures. We, the Open Group, our role is the neutral party, we facilitate interoperability, help with team members to develop consensus and evolve and integrate their standards and specifications in open source technology. We also offer a comprehensive set of services to enhance operational efficiency of consortia such as the FACE consortium – Future Airborne Capability Environment consortium – which is one of our managed consortia hosted by the Open Group. And after technical standards are developed we also offer the industry’s premier certification service to ensure that products that are developed in accordance with requirements defined in a technical standard can be certified as conforming to that standard with a stamp of approval. That gives it some meat in the market as far as trademark use and things like that. We also publish a wide range of technical documentation most of which is focused on developing Open Group standards and guides but it also includes white papers, technical studies, certification and testing, testing documentation and other business titles associated with the efforts that are ongoing within the Open Group.

You mentioned FACE – I’m wondering whether we can just drill down into that a little bit more. Could you perhaps give us some insight into what this particular standard has entailed and what advantages it should offer businesses, governments, and of course the warfighters?

The FACE consortium is actually the one I am most familiar with; I am the program director for FACE under the collaborative services umbrella in the Open Group. So the FACE consortium is aviation focused and we are a professional group that’s made up of US industry suppliers, customers who are mostly government, currently NAVAIR – naval aviation – and the army, PEO aviation in the army research branch for missiles. We’re working to get the air force on board as well so that we have all three branches of our military representing us as customers, and we also have users of the products, the end products, who were involved in developing the technical standards. The FACE consortium provides a vendor neutral forum for both industry and US government to work together to develop and consolidate open standards, best practices, guidance documents and business models. One of our rules is to not reinvent the wheel. If there’s a standard out there that is already available that will meet the needs of a certain portion of the FACE technical standard we will include that as part of a profile so that we can leverage some of the work that’s already been done versus doing it again ourselves.

In January 2012 the FACE consortium released the first edition of the FACE technical standard by having the standard out and available to the public so that vendors can develop products in accordance with it. The products are intended to reduce life cycle costs and time to field new capabilities to our warfighters. We’re hoping to do this by introducing a standard common operating environment within the avionic software industry that is based on open standards and this will support portable capability based applications across DoD avionic systems. We’re doing this government and industry partnership in attempts to obtain industry and DoD program management endorsement as well so that there’s buy in from the customer level and those who are going to be procuring products to be conformant to the FACE technical standard. Again, this is to facilitate conformance to the standard so that we maximise and can ensure interoperability between applications with an avionic system. And there are several advantages that are specially applicable to the war fighter as well as government and industry. FACE is providing open standards and standard software interfaces within the software stack for avionic software. By having this standardised we increase software portability, we’re promoting reusable software capability, the consortium has also established a business model that has been official to both industry and government because by standardising and opening up the software stack we want to make sure that there is still competition among the industry partners who are involved and also foster innovation. And by doing all of this we enhance and accelerate the capabilities that are going to be available to the warfighter, which is our bottom line.

This is an extract of an interview conducted ahead of Defence IQ’s Interoperable Open Architecture conference. Read the full interview and download the full agenda here.

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