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Service-Oriented Architecture & Cyber Security

The impact of a Federal SOA application and the Cyber-Warrior

In an earlier article, I stated that we can view Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) as a synthesis of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) platforms with middleware tools. This evolution has evolved into an architectural style which, entities can then utilize to execute and align key services with their operational model to achieve strategies, goals and objectives.

Most who interact with or have interacted with the Department of Defence (DoD), will know of the various domains through which operations are implemented.

As with any effective entity within the federal realm, the DoD in its effort to ensure that mission critical information is accessible, discernible, implicitly clear for its end-users and available as demanded in an efficient manner; has implemented a technical architectural approach with SOA implementations.

Of course as with any SOA implementation regardless of industry there will be areas of need that requires addressing; for instance the existence of disparities within data and service modeling.

But can we really take a random command centre with diverse DBMS implementations possibly stocked with multifarious client server applications, which are in turn probably coded in several languages and integrate them into a functional SOA execution?  Maybe, at least in theory... right?

Unfortunately due to one reason or another in the past, the process of sharing data across domains was difficult if at all possible i.e. stuck in a stove pipes or information silos. The DoD in an effort to mitigate this, moved to adopting and employing a series of strategies one of which is metadata registry and service registry implementations.

However a key challenge faced with the volume of both structured and unstructured information available is adequately matching system searches with user intent and context ­­­-- the right metadata. This so that related information/data can be effectively utilised per the discovery cycle.

Enter the terminology NetCentric. According to Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium NCOIC; "Net-centricity seeks to leverage evolving networking capabilities to improve global enterprise efficiency."

By this definition we can hope to assume in terms of combat the intention is to capitalize on technology. A route which incorporate systems/processes in a move away from simply automating processes to parse and output data into a system (SOA), but rather where technology is inversely exploited to improve combat situations in real time.

These strategies evolved within the SOA - DOD intelligence space, stemming from three DOD CIO memos aimed at all services and was termed the DOD Net-Centric Data Strategy.

In summary this Strategy calls for data to be: Visible, Accessible, Understandable, Trustworthy, Interoperable, Responsive and Institutionalized (this is the process of embedding something within an organization and establishing it as customary within a given environment).

According to Cohen and Taylor, one objective of the DoD, "is to building improvements into current capabilities using the pieces of SOA and service-orientation that work best, passing the shortfalls back to industry and the educational community for prospective new solutions".

An example of such an instance of gains from private industry, was detailed to me in a conversation I had a few days ago with a team from Modus Operandi. The team reached out to discuss their contribution in terms of SOA within the federal and intelligence areas as it impacts an improvement in exploiting available intelligence and shortening the decision cycle.

The result of Modus Operandi's work is to supply actionable intelligence within tactically useful timelines

Of course they only shared publicly available information with me.

The company states "Massive volumes of raw data present a significant challenge. Users are typically left to manually interpret separate silos of data and search results to sift the relevant from the irrelevant."

As a result, one area that this firm addresses is a means to allow analysts to overcome the barrage of data that is thrown at them, with a proposed framework to manage this volume of unstructured data.

This is turn can lead to allowing authorised users to seamlessly work together regardless of location.

According to Tod Hagan Director, ISR Software Solutions; the framework this firm has developed, can allow an analyst to produce essential and immediate field ready intelligence within a timeline which enables effective counteraction e.g. data which normally takes several days to parse and interpret can now be parsed and interpreted within several hours or minutes.

In essence, this framework called Wave-EF performs semantic enrichment of data which in turn enables ontology-based data fusion & discovery.

Modus Operandi defines Semantic Enrichment and Ontology Based Data Fusion as follows:

Semantic Enrichment: the automated and scalable addition of XML metadata tags to raw data that represent the embedded meaning and relevant facts.

Ontology-Based Data Fusion: the correlation of related facts to a domain ontology's concepts, and support for semantic queries and machine reasoning.

The Wave-EF framework facilitates an increased level of data automation and machine reasoning. The benefit of machine reasoning is the ability to infer information which is not explicit in the data. Wave-EF not only parses raw intelligence but also supplements additional meta-tags.

This process augments the construction of a process which, not only enables information discovery; but also increases the amount of relevant data on top of the ability for information to become discoverable.

In conclusion whilst, I have not personally interacted with this system; based on the data sheets, conversations and presentations I was privy to, the system seems to focus on an area of core functionality and user interface components with concise and integral hardware/software integration.

This in turn ensures adequate integrations to other data sources provided, is scalable, handles data on the move, configures rapidly and due to its pluggable persistence avoids vendor lock-in.

More Stories By Jon Shende

Jon RG Shende is an executive with over 18 years of industry experience. He commenced his career, in the medical arena, then moved into the Oil and Gas environment where he was introduced to SCADA and network technologies,also becoming certified in Industrial Pump and Valve repairs. Jon gained global experience over his career working within several verticals to include pharma, medical sales and marketing services as well as within the technology services environment, eventually becoming the youngest VP of an international enterprise. He is a graduate of the University of Oxford, holds a Masters certificate in Business Administration, as well as an MSc in IT Security, specializing in Computer Crime and Forensics with a thesis on security in the Cloud. Jon, well versed with the technology startup and mid sized venture ecosystems, has contributed at the C and Senior Director level for former clients. As an IT Security Executive, Jon has experience with Virtualization,Strategy, Governance,Risk Management, Continuity and Compliance. He was an early adopter of web-services, web-based tools and successfully beta tested a remote assistance and support software for a major telecom. Within the realm of sales, marketing and business development, Jon earned commendations for turnaround strategies within the services and pharma industry. For one pharma contract he was responsibe for bringing low performing districts up to number 1 rankings for consecutive quarters; as well as outperforming quotas from 125% up to 314%. Part of this was achieved by working closely with sales and marketing teams to ensure message and product placement were on point. Professionally he is a Fellow of the BCS Chartered Institute for IT, an HITRUST Certified CSF Practitioner and holds the CITP and CRISC certifications.Jon Shende currently works as a Senior Director for a CSP. A recognised thought Leader, Jon has been invited to speak for the SANs Institute, has spoken at Cloud Expo in New York as well as sat on a panel at Cloud Expo Santa Clara, and has been an Ernst and Young CPE conference speaker. His personal blog is located at http://jonshende.blogspot.com/view/magazine "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."

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