Be Like Water (Part II): Maneuverability Architecture

Publish date:

At the end of my previous viewpoint on Mosaic Operations (see link below), it is concluded that DARPA’s mosaic warfare concept can only succeed when complemented by an agile strategy and an agile architecture approach. Both are key in supporting the timely delivery of ever-changing mission strategy and plans to the composable force. Such an agile and composable Enterprise Architecture can best be referred to as Maneuverability Architecture and it paves the way for the future digital and data-driven Defence.

For those, who haven’t read my prequel (part – 1) to this article, here it is – Be Like Water: Mosaic Operations for reference…

Defence is a software business

To become a future-ready Defence organization it is not sufficient to acquire and implement world-class technology. To create an advantage over adversaries Defence needs to build its own world-class technology on top of it. Mosaic operations is not just about implementing containerization and microservices concepts but on top of these technologies requires state-of-the-art and AI-enabled distributed C2 software, to improve (joint) force´s ability to operate in denied, degraded, contested, congested and operationally limited environments.  C2 is to evolve to local decision making based on opportunity The notion that such disruptive technologies need to be developed is picked up by the US DoD through their Software Modernization Strategy. Mosaic Warfare is the natural evolution of the current DevSecOps programs of the US Air Force and Navy’s. It is no surprise that earlier this year the US DoD replaced their 2018 Cloud Strategy with a Software Modernization Strategy, which is one in a set of sub-strategies of the DoD Digital Modernization Strategy. The software modernization strategy is aimed at adopting modern software development methods that effectively integrate performance and security throughout the software development lifecycle. Cloud computing supports a range of new technologies (ML, AI, VR/AR, etc) but cannot deliver on all the Defence sector’s requirements on resilience and performance. Unless the software is modernized to take advantage of the distributed computing offered by the cloud delivery model and accelerate the DoD’s cloud ambitions. With the introduction of a software development ecosystem the DoD is adopting the “every business is a software business” paradigm.  The software development ecosystem will consist of software factories, which in turn consist of one or more delivery pipelines. Through this layering the development of software becomes scalable and can be positioned as a joint software factory, or dedicated and close to the end-user (army, air force, navy, space and cyber defence).  The foundation for software modernization is herewith defined. But to build the world-class technology on top of it requires a new holistic approach to Enterprise Architecture. New communication technologies, concepts and protocols must be developed and tested. Technologies that create and manage very large distributed systems in physical, virtual, and executive domains in a highly parallel manner and without any centralized resources. Technologies that resemble the human brain when making sense of rising situations and are distributed across an ecosystem of intelligent nodes in the battlespace.

Architecting for Optionality

Mosaic and decision centric operations are aimed at creating numerous and diverse courses of action (COA) and keeping options open as long as possible. Traditionally military resources would be committed early in a forecast-centric mission planning, limiting the number of options to change. By adding optionality mosaic operations narrows the opponent’s decision-making process. In line with this strategy Maneuverability Architecture can be defined as the Enterprise Architecture that supports mosaic forces, systems and platforms to scale up and down fast, support distributed decision making and are able to continuously adapt their configuration to a context-based battlespace with a diversity of connectivity- and communications means and on-demand interoperability. The architecture covers not only system and platform technologies but also mission technologies, E.g., human command and machine control systems, multi-domain command and control nodes, sensors, AI enabled C2 nodes, etcetera.

Just like traditional EA, the maneuverability architecture is based on principles. With the optionality strategy in mind the “train as you fight, fight as you train” principle becomes more important than ever. Another important principle is the support for graceful degradation of systems and networks. But at the same time maneuverability architecture can effectively manage and adopt emergent and evolving architecture. This is necessary to support the development of new operational concepts offered by mosaic warfare. To exploit these possibilities, defence business teams must work closely  with developers and researchers in multi-disciplinary teams to set priorities for the agile software development sprints and backlogs. In their strategy the DoD aims toward “a technology-literate workforce, not just the warfighter but all those who serve the various missions of defense. The entire workforce must understand their role in delivering software”. Implementing maximum maneuverability also impacts enterprise services and software like ERP. Their enterprise-wide use and value will decrease as modernization unfolds. Unless they have a true value across the whole Defence organization, these will eventually be replaced by distributed services that better support the specific end-users needs. In other words: the mosaic concept will eventually also apply to future ERP platforms.

Figure 1. Reach and range model of the maneuverability architecture.

Agile@Scale approach

To be successful in implementing maneuverability architecture the majority of design work is to be done with an optimal proximity between architects and the multi-disciplinary development teams. It is therefore essential to establish a decentralized and federated architecture organization. For similar large transformations we recommend building an architecture organization in what we refer to as an Agile@Scale context. This proximity to the perimeter also applies to mission planning and exercises in which enterprise and IT architects must have a predominant role in developing emerging operational concepts, defining valid courses of action and validating operative effects. Federated architectural teams (Design Authorities), either virtual or physical, will act at each perimeter to define and communicate a common architectural vision for their perimeter on all architectural domains: business, applicative, data and technical. It is the Design Authorities that define their perimeter’s architectural and technological target, and responsible for designing their respective perimeter’s IT building blocks (capabilities) roadmap.

Existing Enterprise Architecture practices must be transformed into one or more cross-disciplinary pools of architecture skills. Meaning these will be composed of enterprise architects, solution architects and product architects with transversal expertise (Cloud, BizDevOps, AI, …) and which can be quickly mobilized according to changing needs or priorities. Knowledge on NATO Federated Mission Networking (FMN) is also a transversal expertise in this context. FMN is a Reference Architecture aimed at supporting command and control and decision-making in future operations through improved information-sharing. Its ambition is overlapping with mosaic operations: allied forces being ready for action from day one.

The enterprise architects have to claim their position as management consultant to defence management, and become actively involved in the force transformation. Working methods and culture need to support agile development in which emergent architecture is valued and brings architecture construction closer to Agile teams to extend it progressively based on priority needs. Finally, there is no preferred architecture framework to support maneuverability architecture. The framework will be tailored to the context and needs of the Defence organization. With the adoption of agility, architecture practices are evolving either by adopting existing frameworks like IT4IT to agile, or through new developed frameworks like the Open Agile Architecture Framework (O-AA).

Summary

New operational concepts are aimed at speeding up the decision-making process in distributed and mosaic forces. A cecision-centric approach is a methodology that brings together processes, data, people and rules. It not only requires a modernization and transformation roadmap for the armed forces and weapon systems, but also for the emergent and disruptive technologies and software, the data needed for agile C2 processes and the underlying mesh of compute and storage power. It is important to develop architecture in a holistic way to be the compass for innovation and transformation. Maneuverable enterprise architecture looks across any existing silos to address cross-domain functionalities and data integration needs. Because any decision is as good as the data it is based on it is mandatory to have a Data Architecture in place. A maneuverable EA needs to adopt an agile and federated mode, and Agile@Scale architecture, to work in close cooperation with the end-user.

Figure 2. Role of architecture within the “strategic triangle”.


Har Gootzen is a Chief Enterprise Architect and IT Strategist with Capgemini. His expertise is defining digital architectures and solutions in Defence and Public Security.

References / Literature

Implementing Decision-Centric Warfare: Elevating Command and Control to Gain an Optionality Advantage / Bryan Clark, Dan Patt, Timothy A. Walton / Hudson Institute, Center for Defense Concepts and Technology / March 2021 (Link)

Capgemini Agile IT Architecture – The JIT-JEA way of working / Stefano Rossini et all / 2022 / https://www.capgemini.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/AGILE-IT-ARCHITECTURE_PoV.pdf

Capgemini Expert Perspective on Agile Architecture / Point of View, June 2020 / https://www.capgemini.com/insights/expert-perspectives/3-steps-for-building-your-architecture-organization-in-an-agilescale-context/

Department of Defense Software Modernization Strategy / November 2021 / Link

DoD Enterprise DevSecOps Reference Design / August 2019 / Link

Strategic Enterprise Architecture Management: Challenges, Best Practices and Future Developments / Frederik Ahlemann, Eric Stettiner, Marcus Messerschmidt, Christine Legner / Springer Verlag 2012

Related Posts

An automotive company used AI to forecast logistics lead time

Date icon September 30, 2022

The onset of the global pandemic has disrupted every form of business. Artificial...

With tougher times looming — know your options with cloud provider funding

Date icon September 30, 2022

One of the main reasons for business enterprises to adopt cloud modernization is to reduce...

From the military to civilian work-life: Dimitri Hammerer narrates his story

Date icon September 26, 2022

My transition from the military to civilian life started by the end of 2019. The French MoD...