Industry Seeking Comprehensive Strategy For Future Open Architecture Efforts

Moving to a comprehensive architecture strategy and facilitating greater discussion with industry on cyber security are critical steps needed to address future military system capabilities, according to industry officials.

As the effort grows across the armed services to replace legacy systems, industry is seeking to start implementing new architecture standards from the ground up to foster greater integration and functionality, according to a group of panelists at sister publication Defense Daily’s Open Architecture Summit Oct. 19.

“No longer are we protecting boxes, are we protecting aircraft, are we protecting networks, we have to break it down and protect the smallest level as well. And it’s not easy. It’s not cheap,” said Eric “Delta” Burke, Harris Corp.’s [HRS] lead for future vertical lift architecture. “Quite honestly, I don’t think we have the processes set in place just yet for us to define those requirements and meet those requirements.”

Burke points to experimentation with more industry consortiums to meet new architecture requirements ahead of future military system needs.

Harris is moving to a model-based engineering approach that maximizes use of commercial products to more rapidly develop products that work within open systems, according to Burke.

An emphasis on setting requirements from an enterprise level, rather than system level, fits with the transition to an updated architecture approach, according to Marcell Padilla, CRL Technologies’ Army open architecture program manager.

Padilla detailed his requirements for a new comprehensive architecture strategy to meet the anticipated needs of future military systems, including understanding organizations' business goals and moving to centrally-managed configurations. A new strategy would also need to define functionality of capabilities, improve governance and embrace software-defined architecture.

“In our work with the Navy and supporting the Army, we know one architecture system does not rule them all. We need to have a combination of them, and in some cases you have to profile or subset portions that are only applicable to you and your business or technical needs,” said Padilla.

Mitch Miller, technical advisor on avionics for the Air Force, believes any new industry approach to open architecture must place a focus on cyber security that covers all aspects of Department of Defense systems.

“We have 260 proprietary configurations in the DoD. We can’t do business that way anymore,” said Miller. “All those 260 behave slightly differently. If I standardize that, and if I can look at those interfaces and I can protect those that are very well defined, I can more rapidly mitigate security solutions across the field. We’ve got to get there, that’s what we’re on a mission to go do.”

Miller’s Air Force team created a cyber campaign plan to establish open architecture standards moving forward. The plan was developed over three years and is now fully funded for fiscal year 2018.

The plan aims to prioritize mission threat analysis, cyber security standards and proper architecture manage for the Air Force’s industry partners developing enterprise solutions.

For industry subcontractors on open architecture projects, Burke points to further guidance from DoD on cohesive definitions and integration efforts for military systems.

“For open architecture, I do believe that the [subcontractors] play a critical role because all the interfaces ultimately have to be defined at the lowest level. If it’s not defined at the lowest level ... it won’t vertically integrate,” said Burke.

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