A consortium backed by the Department of Defense (DoD) is pushing for open standards to improve its IT and communications and is tapping 28 major companies including EMC Corp and Lockheed Martin to spearhead the effort.
The Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC), launched this week, will provide input on standards and architectural approaches that systems developers should follow to get a slice of the DoD's ever-expanding budget for improving its IT infrastructure. Industry watchers note that the DoD was instrumental in the push for open systems in the early 90's and has a lot of sway in IT circles.However, it's no secret that the DoD's own IT systems lag way behind what's available in the commercial world. They are encumbered with internal rules and federal acquisition regulations that slow down the process for rolling out new systems. "It involves a tremendous amount of bureaucracy," said Steve James, director of business development for defense intelligence at EMC. "The consortium should circumvent this process." Founding members of the group include: BAE Systems, Boeing, CACI International Inc., Carrillo Business Technologies Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., EADS, EMC Corp., Ericsson, Factiva -- a Dow Jones and Reuters Company, Finmeccanica, General Dynamics Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Honeywell, IBM, Innerwall, L-3 Communications Corp. (Integrated Systems), Lockheed Martin Corp, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman Corp., Oracle Corp., Raytheon Co., Rockwell Collins Inc., SAAB, SAIC, Smiths Aerospace, Sun Microsystems, Thales and Themis, with The Open Group acting as the management company. During a conference call Tuesday, former U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology Dr. Paul Kaminski, chairman of the NCOIC Advisory Council, gave an example of a marine unit being unable to pass information to an infantry unit because they use different communication systems. "The importance of this consortium lies in its ability to provide a unified approach that integrates everything through the last mile," he said. "We've seen the power of the network grow by quantum leaps in the last decade, but we've been impeded by the lack of a common approach that enables our systems to network together as one."