Chapter 2. Reference Models: Transition from Platform Centric to Service Oriented Models

5. Information technology has undergone a fundamental shift from platform-oriented computing to service-oriented computing. Platform-oriented computing emerged with the widespread proliferation of personal computers and the global business environment. These factors and related technologies have created the conditions for the emergence of network-oriented computing. This shift from platform to network is what enables the more flexible and more dynamic network-oriented operation. The shift from viewing NATO and partner Nations as independent to viewing them as part of a continuously adapting network ecosystem fosters a rich information sharing environment.

6. This shift is most obvious in the explosive growth of the Internet, intranets, and extranets. Internet users no doubt will recognize transmission control protocol/internet protocol (TCP/IP), hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), hypertext markup language (HTML), Web browsers, search engines, and Java[3] Computing. These technologies, combined with high-volume, high-speed data access (enabled by the low-cost laser) and technologies for high-speed data networking (switches and routers) have led to the emergence of network-oriented computing. Information “content” now can be created, distributed, and easily exploited across the extremely heterogeneous global computing environment. The “power” or “payoff” of network-oriented computing comes from information-intensive interactions between very large numbers of heterogeneous computational nodes in the network, where the network becomes the dynamic information grid established by interconnecting participants in a collaborative, coalition environment. At the structural level, network-enabled warfare requires an operational architecture to enable common processes to be shared.

7. One of the major drivers for supporting net-enabled operations is Service-Oriented Architectures (SOA). SOA is an architectural style that leverages heterogeneity, focuses on interfaces between services and as such this approach is inherently platform-neutral. It is focused on the composition of Services into flexible processes and is more concerned with the Service interface and above (including composition metadata, security policy, and dynamic binding information), more so than what sits beneath the abstraction of the Service interface. SOA requires a different kind of platform, because runtime execution has different meanings within SOA. SOA enables users and process architects to compose Services into processes, and then manage and evolve those processes, in a declarative fashion. Runtime execution of such processes is therefore a metadata-centric operation of a different kind of platform -- a Service-oriented composite application platform.

8. Service-enabled operations are characterized by new concepts of speed of command and self-synchronization.

9. The most important SOA within an enterprise is the one that links all its systems. Existing platforms can be wrapped or extended in order to participate in a wider SOA environment. NATO use of the NISP will provide a template for new systems development, as well as assist in defining the path for existing systems to migrate towards net-enabled operations.

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