|SOA Recommendations for Disadvantaged Grids in the Tactical Domain|
|Information Systems Technology|
Communication, Disadvantaged Grids, Information, Interoperability, QoS, SOA, Tactical Level, Technology
The Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) approach has been chosen by NC3B as the recommended method to achieve information interoperability in NATO. Especially, SOA is a candidate solution to increase the level of interoperability for the NATO C4ISR and NNEC areas. However, the SOA technology was originally designed for civilian use over robust, high-bandwidth networks and it was not clear that it could properly function in the deployed military environment which suffers in many instances from inadequate or unstable connectivity. This fact remains a major impediment to achieving interoperability among the nations in the battlespace.
IST-090 Task Groups primary objective was to identify improvements and demonstrate how to make SOA applicable at the tactical level, which typically includes communication over disadvantaged grids. These disadvantaged grids are characterized by low bandwidth, variable throughput, unreliable connectivity, and energy constraints imposed by the wireless communications grid that links the nodes.
They have successfully achieved their goal, capping the work with an excellent series of demonstrations of military systems working using SOA over disadvantaged grids. In doing so, they have left a very positive legacy for NATO and the nations.
The results of IST-090 created an awareness of the challenges related to extending a SOA to tactical networks and provided possible solutions. The results also demonstrated that SOA can work at lower levels than previously thought. Evidence of this is found in the Data Distribution Services demonstration by ESP, as part of the IST-090 program, and in the final IST-090 demonstrations by DEU, NC3A, NOR and POL at the MCC 2011.
The SOA concept is now well known within NATO and, partly due to the work of predecessor IST RTGs, it is being used in portions of the Afghanistan Mission Network (AMN).
Current SOA implementations tend to create an increased demand on the network resources, unless specific measures are taken. Furthermore, the proposed NATO standards  for the static environment are not necessarily suitable and have not been extensively tested for disadvantaged grids.
The goal of the RTG is to identify the types of information that are exchanged at the tactical level and use these to do experimenting and testing with possible SOA improvements. Based on the results, the goal is to provide guidance (best practices) to make SOA applicable on battlefield disadvantaged grids, in the form of a Tactical SOA Profile.
Identify the types of information that are exchanged at the tactical level in the SOA environment. These will be used in testing and prototyping. We will consider future systems and/or services, their expected communication needs, and the expected impact at the tactical level.
Based on the identified types of information and the available technology we will propose a (set of) solution(s).
Based on the information requirements the group will define their test plan. The test plan will incorporate well defined scenarios with predefined parameters. For the communication networks the group will consider what techniques, throughputs and disruptions are relevant to the disadvantaged networks in the expected scenario.
The group will develop a test framework that is based on (a combination of) simulation and/or emulation.
To make the test plan realistic and relevant to the tactical environment, the group include the expected security overhead (signatures, added traffic) in the actually exchanged information.
Identify tactical SOA foundation services. Examples: messages, security, discovery, management, mediation. Investigate how this baseline can be extended for use in tactical networks.
The group will investigate applicable QoS parameters at both the application and at the network level, that are applicable at the tactical domain. These parameters will be used in cross-layer middleware.
Monitoring and/or interacting with (multi)national activities and other communities of interest (e.g. NC3B, EDA).
This study is not limited to the above-mentioned topics.