Category: Common Operation Platform Environments (COPEs)

In an era of sequestration and austerity, the federal government is seeking software reuse strategies that will allow them to move away from stove-piped development toward open, reusable architectures. The government is also motivated to explore reusable architectures for purposes beyond fiscal constraints: to leverage existing technology, curtail wasted effort, and increase capabilities rather than reinventing them. An open architecture in a software system adopts open standards that support a modular, loosely coupled, and highly cohesive system structure that includes the publication of key interfaces within the system and full design disclosure.

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The Better Buying Power 2.0 initiative is a concerted effort by the United States Department of Defense to achieve greater efficiencies in the development, sustainment, and recompetition of major defense acquisition programs through cost control, elimination of unproductive processes and bureaucracy, and promotion of open competition. This SEI blog posting describes how the Navy is operationalizing Better Buying Power in the context of their Open Systems Architecture and Business Innovation initiatives.

To deliver enhanced integrated warfighting capability at lower cost across the enterprise and over the lifecycle, the Department of Defense (DoD) must move away from stove-piped solutions and towards a limited number of technical reference frameworks based on reusable hardware and software components and services. There have been previous efforts in this direction, but in an era of sequestration and austerity, the DoD has reinvigorated its efforts to identify effective methods of creating more affordable acquisition choices and reducing the cycle time for initial acquisition and new technology insertion. This blog posting is part of an ongoing series on how acquisition professionals and system integrators can apply Open Systems Architecture (OSA)practices to decompose large monolithic business and technical designs into manageable, capability-oriented frameworks that can integrate innovation more rapidly and lower total ownership costs. The focus of this posting is on the evolution of DoD combat systems from ad hoc stovepipes to more modular and layered architectures.

Department of Defense (DoD) program managers and associated acquisition professionals are increasingly called upon to steward the development of complex, software-reliant combat systems. In today's environment of expanded threats and constrained resources (e.g., sequestration), their focus is on minimizing the cost and schedule of combat-system acquisition, while simultaneously ensuring interoperability and innovation. A promising approach for meeting these challenging goals is Open Systems Architecture (OSA), which combines (1) technical practices designed to reduce the cycle time needed to acquire new systems and insert new technology into legacy systems and (2) business models for creating a more competitive marketplace and a more effective strategy for managing intellectual property rights in DoD acquisition programs. This blog posting expands upon our earlier coverage of how acquisition professionals and system integratorscan apply OSA practices to decompose large monolithic business and technical designs into manageable, capability-oriented frameworks that can integrate innovation more rapidly and lower total ownership costs.

While agile methods have become popular in commercial software development organizations, the engineering disciplines needed to apply agility to mission-critical, software-reliant systems are not as well defined or practiced. To help bridge this gap, the SEI recently hosted the Agile Research Forum. The event brought together researchers and practitioners from around the world to discuss when and how to best apply agile methods in mission-critical environments found in government and many industries. This blog posting, the fifth and final installment in a multi-part series highlighting research presented during the forum, summarizes a presentation I gave on the importance of applying agile methods to common operating platform environments (COPEs)that have become increasingly important for the Department of Defense (DoD).

The extent of software in Department of Defense (DoD) systems has increased by more than an order of magnitude every decade. This is not just because there are more systems with more software; a similar growth pattern has been exhibited within individual, long-lived military systems. In recognition of this growing software role, the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E, now ASD(R&E)) requested the National Research Council (NRC) to undertake a study of defense software producibility, with the purpose of identifying the principal challenges and developing recommendations regarding both improvement to practice and priorities for research.

Common operating platform environments (COPEs) are reusable software infrastructures that incorporate open standards; define portable interfaces, interoperable protocols, and data models; offer complete design disclosure; and have a modular, loosely coupled, and well-articulated software architecture that provides applications and end users with many shared capabilities. COPEs can help reduce recurring engineering costs, as well as enable developers to build better and more powerful applications atop a COPE, rather than wrestling repeatedly with tedious and error-prone infrastructure concerns.

Mission-critical operations in the Department of Defense (DoD) increasingly depend on complex software-reliant systems-of-systems (abbreviated as "systems" below). These systems are characterized by a rapidly growing number of connected platforms, sensors, decision nodes, and people. While facing constrained budget, expanded threat, and engineering workforce challenges, the DoD is trying to obtain greater efficiency and productivity in defense spending needed to acquire and sustain these systems. This blog posting--the first in a three-part series--motivates the need for DoD common operating platform environmentsthat can help collapse today's stove-piped solutions to decrease costs, spur innovation, and increase acquisition and operational performance.

As part of an ongoing effort to keep you informed about the latest work of SEI technologists, I will keep you apprised of SEI-related work that's published each month as SEI technical reports and notes. This post includes a listing of each report, author/s, and links where reports published in March can be accessed on the SEI website. The first report, A Framework for Evaluating Common Operating Environments, is based on a recent SEI blog postingand is an area I'm actively working on at the SEI. As always, we welcome your feedback on our work.

Large-scale DoD acquisition programs are increasingly being developed atop reusable software platforms--known as Common Operating Environments (COEs) --that provide applications and end-users with many net-centric capabilities, such as cloud computing or Web 2.0 applications, including data-sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration. Selecting an appropriate COE is critical to the success of acquisition programs, yet the processes and methods for evaluating COEs had not been clearly defined. I explain below how the SEI developed a Software Evaluation Framework and applied it to help assess the suitability of COEs for the US Army.