Enterprise Architecture Provides Base for Air Force Mission to Secure the Space Arena

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Stakeholders access ‘Space Situation Awareness’ data in EA built using Troux’s Metis toolset for actionable views of space environment

Through their web browsers, authorized users will be able to quickly access the exact information they need, whether they are working at a very high level of the EA or drilling down into the details of an SSA capability captured in HTML, Word, and Excel documents.

An effective national defense strategy requires that superiority in space be considered equally important with air, land and sea dominance. The key to space superiority is Space Situation Awareness (SSA), which means having a complete understanding of what is happening in space, taking into account both environmental and man-made events. From a military perspective, Space Situation Awareness is critical for success in any warfighting domain -- from defending space-borne assets against hostile attack and environment hazards, to supporting forward-deployed forces on land and sea. For example, in Operation Iraqi Freedom, SSA can help ensure the availability of satellite-based reconnaissance for operations support by forecasting, three days in advance, solar disturbances that could disrupt communications and thus endanger lives.

Space Situation Awareness has a broad stakeholder base in the national security and space communities. Stakeholders encompass 15 different organizations, including the military services and intelligence agencies, as well as numerous federal civilian agencies concerned with space such as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). To support their systems and capabilities planning requirements and provide guidance for their investment decisions, the Air Force established its Space Situation Awareness Integration Office (SSAIO) in 2002.

A central mission of SSAIO is to build SSA Enterprise Architectures for use in making recommendations to stakeholders in their acquisition and allocation of resources for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, environmental action, and C3 (command, control and communications).

“Previously these functions were done in a stovepipe fashion. There was a recognition at the top levels of the Defense Department that we had to start integrating all of that diverse data to gain a more complete and accurate view of the space environment,” says Lt. Col. Bruce Cessna, SSAIO Deputy Director. “To do that requires a unified architecture capturing all of the resources for communication, navigation, weather forecasting, targeting, intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance functions, and other capabilities.”

Lt. Col. Cessna oversees the SSAIO’s Enterprise Architecture activities, which comprise the building of an As-Is architecture, a To-Be architecture, and a Should-Be architecture. The goal is to be able to provide cost management and decision making across the broad spectrum of the Air Force -- from the Undersecretary of the Air Force to product developers building individual systems.

The As-Is architecture reflects operational capabilities now in the acquisition cycle, all of which should be fully in place by 2010. The To-Be architecture will comprise multiple versions, each reflecting a different set of additional operations capabilities -- various mixes of ground- and space-based systems -- for possible acquisition through 2016. By developing As-Is and To-Be alternative architectures and assessing them, the SSAIO can track increases in capabilities for a given cost, helping to ensure the most effective use of investment dollars by stakeholders implementing SSA systems.

The Should-Be architecture supports long-range budget planning by reflecting new technologies likely to emerge through 2025 -- the “state of the possible” in operational capabilities.

The SSAIO system has two primary functions. It provides:

•A core visualization tool for displaying all data pertaining to SSA. To this end, the Metis® Enterprise visual modeling toolset from Troux Technologies plays a key role by allowing visual representation of all the data and products used within the Enterprise Architecture, and providing users with single-click access to this data. The focus is to have traceability back to the source data used in decision-making during the evolution of the As-Is and To-Be architectures.

•Capability Analysis for providing guidance throughout the budget cycle. The final product produced from the Enterprise Architecture is a 30-page document which references recommended decision points within the architecture and the analysis of these decisions.

“The bottom line is that our Enterprise Architecture will be critically important in influencing many billions of dollars of investments over the next 15 years,” says Lt. Col. Cessna, who says he spends about 20 percent of his time briefing senior leadership in the stakeholder communities. “It gives us a powerful tool for advising our stakeholders about shortfalls in their SSA capabilities, and what they should be investing in to achieve a given capability level.”

Metis integrates family of tools for a highly flexible system

In the initial phase of developing the SSAIO system, the enterprise architecture team under Lt. Col. Cessna came to recognize the necessity of taking a family-of-tools approach in order to gain the strengths of different tools for specific architecting tasks. Accordingly the team, which includes about 25 full-time engineers led by SPARTA Inc., is now building an EA metamodel that leverages the flexibility of Metis for EA visualization. Other tools are used for structured analysis and requirements management as well as Microsoft productivity tools, including Word, Excel and Visio, which are used for generating specialized reports and Use Case documents. Begun in May 2004 and slated for completion in September 2005, the SSAIO metamodel is massive -- comprising more than 8,000 objects, 30,000 relationships, 30,500 object views, and 40,000 relationship views.

The system is built on a Microsoft SQL Server database which provides a central repository for data capture on multiple levels, streamlined integration of data from different sources, and easy data access by a wide variety of tools. A web interface allows authorized users to directly access scripts and reports as well as dynamically select the components of an EA metamodel to load from the database. Optimized COM interfaces within the various tools include functions to populate data, capture the look and feel of UML diagrams, generate reports, and to even develop architectures using spreadsheets instead of the Metis visualization tool.

Even links are classified

“Our biggest concern when we are integrating data is ensuring our stakeholders that we are not giving away too much,” says Shawn Hosp, a senior software engineer on the SSAIO’s EA team. “In order to confirm the data is classified, every object we collect contains a classification and every link contains a classification as well. As a result, when we move up to a top secret environment, we can still capture it.”

“The stakeholders in our enterprise range from unclassified foreign entity relationships up to very classified intelligence,” says Lt. Col. Cessna. “We have developed networks -- classified secret, top secret -- and they all roll up. Our challenge is to operate between the databases. Because we can readily integrate the EA data from the different tools used by the stakeholder organizations and adapt to changes in those tools as they are made, we can continually and securely leverage the work they have accomplished without repeating their effort.”

Web-accessible architecture provides fast access for all users

The first As-Is iteration of the EA will include the entire current SSA database in a web-based environment. “We are maturing beyond just giving printouts or disks with HTML versions of the EA to our stakeholders,” says Shawn Hosp. “Through their web browsers, authorized users will be able to quickly access the exact information they need, whether they are working at a very high level of the EA or drilling down into the details of an SSA capability captured in HTML, Word, and Excel documents.”

Next steps in development of the SSAIO enterprise architecture -- set to begin in late 2005 -- will emphasize the capability to actively disseminate SSA data in the EA to stakeholders. “We will focus on identifying the command and control communications relationships in place across the entire enterprise,” says Lt. Col. Cessna. “This will enable us to ensure that all of the information we have developed on Space Situation Awareness capabilities can actually be pushed out to stakeholders -- such as forward-deployed forces and satellite operators -- who need that information in real time.”

Future forward: Metis v5.0 to automate costly data collection process

Beyond that, the SSAIO’s interest in Metis Enterprise v5.0, due for release Summer 2005, relates to standards management: using the tool to assess Global Information Grid (GIG)-compliance and evaluate interoperability protocols within the net-centric enterprise. Metis 5.0 includes a Transformation Management application that allows stakeholders to compare what they have collected with existing patterns. Similarly, once security certification is obtained, Lt. Col. Cessna speculates that his team could automate the costly data collection process through automatically generated Web forms. Currently, team members have to board an airplane to go physically collect status and current configuration data. The three ‘capture’ capabilities of Metis 5.0 -- automated collectors such as OpenView and system management tools; automatically generated Web forms; and Metis for modeling high level concepts including documenting initiatives, goals and business cases -- would solve that challenge.

Julie Keyser-Squires, APR

Softscribe Inc.




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