Analysis tool helps streamline Australia's defense networks

Network improvements aid coalition operations

The Australian Department of Defence (ADOD) is using a software tool to test and measure the interoperability of the different systems and parts of its network architecture. In addition to making the nation’s military IT systems more efficient, the tool will help improve communications and cyber operations with coalition allies such as the United States, officials said.

Developed by the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium — an international organization of IT and defense aerospace firms — the Systems, Capabilities, Operations, Programs and Enterprises (SCOPE) model is a systems engineering tool designed to define the network centric-operations requirements for a system or federation of systems.

The ADOD has been using SCOPE since April, but the tool is still in an initialization phase to better understand its full capabilities, Graham King, the ADOD’s chief architect and director general of General Enterprise Architecture, told Defense Systems. He said SCOPE is already helping that department make sure its organizational architectures align with the government’s Defence Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Strategy, ICT reform, emerging technologies and strategic defense priorities.

SCOPE is an important part of the ADOD’s development of a single information environment (SIE) governance framework to allow its various organizations communicate and operate more efficiently. This is a significant step because it indicates the maturity of SCOPE and the department’s efforts that will help speed the SIE’s adoption process by mitigating institutional resistance to change, King said.

The ADOD is also using SCOPE to help make the Australian military’s enterprise architecture more robust by including a coalition component architecture. King said the SIE will mature incrementally, adding that major stakeholder concerns must be dealt with early by increasing trust through improved organizational and cultural alignment between different business areas.

SCOPE will help the ADOD's architects better understand the governance of the large and increasingly complex capabilities of Australia’s defense networks, from both the business and battlespace aspects of the enterprise, King said. The tool will also increase the speed and collaboration required for decision making and improve understanding of dispersed and austere physical environments to support warfighter network functions and operations, he said.

The ADOD plans to embed the SCOPE methodology into its Enterprise Governance and Assurance Program, which includes a compliance component for all defense projects. “The challenge in developing a ‘fit-for-purpose’ SCOPE methodology is identifying and maintaining clear points of integration and reconciliation,” King said.

This is approach necessary because the interrelationships and dependencies in the architecture reference models reside and are maintained in disparate architectures, King said. From a consolidated architectural perspective, these relationships are identified and function as simple meta-model relationships. But when these cross-relationships extend to components outside the boundaries of the reference models and their supporting architectures, additional efforts to reconcile those relationships must be made, he said.

SCOPE has allowed the ADOD to amend its Single Information Environment-Architectural Intent strategy, especially in recognizing the requirements and accountability of services to fixed, deployed and mobile networks, King said. “This allows those accountabilities to be identified through an understanding of the processes that are required, the information provided by those processes and identification of who is accountable for the decisions that are based on the information provided by the process,” he said.

The challenges and benefits identified by SCOPE will probably have a major effect on the ADOD’s capability planning, management and development processes, King said. An important outcome will be that business knowledge takes precedence over technical knowledge. “Breadth of knowledge — knowing what’s out there and how it should fit together — will become more highly valued than depth of knowledge: understanding everything there is to know about one particular architecture, system or application,” he said. As identified by SCOPE, he said this is a major shift in skills sets that must be carefully coordinated and planned by decision makers.

The ADOD is working with allies such as the United States to develop a network architecture that will support coalition operations and provide some standardization guidelines for planning and managing such operations. “Developing the single information environment is a big job, and our work has only just begun. The urgent driver is to get some guidance out to align our Strategic Reform Program activities for the now and then pursue enduring alignment, including with coalition allies, for the future,” King said.

To achieve this goal, King said significant engagement will be required, both in the ADOD and across the coalition/military security community — during the design, development and implementation of the ICT parts of the SIE. However, he said the ADOD is committed to using the SCOPE methodology to determine what integration and interoperability problems need to be considered to develop an SIE capable of providing robust, flexible, and cost-effective support for operations with coalition allies.

About the Author

Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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