FIEA: An Intelligent Framework for Systems Interaction
In a push to improve the interoperability of the
complex systems that support joint-service and
multinational operations--the ability for these systems
to interact and share data--the Department of Defense
created the Department of Defense Architecture Framework
(DoDAF). The framework uses an architecture data model
and repository system to establish a common approach and
backbone for DoD architecture description development, presentation,
The effectiveness of the framework, however, has been hampered
by the lack of semantic definitions, a methodology, and
software tools to support valid, interoperable views, products,
and reusable artifacts among the DoD’s operations processes.
KBSI, in a project sponsored by the U.S. Air Force, is
designing, developing, and deploying a language, suite of
tools, and methodology that enable true interoperability
among the DoDAF’s complex joint-service and multinational
operations support systems and technologies.
A comprehensive approach to systems
There are currently a hodge-podge of tools and formats
geared towards developing graphic, tabular, and textual artifacts
for DoDAF modeling. These artifacts, however, are not “interoperability friendly”: they cannot be analyzed, verified,
validated, queried, browsed, and shared with other tools and
applications, severely limiting their utility. The most advanced
capability that many low-end “DoDAF compliant” software
tools currently provide is the ability to document the enterprise
architecture--the tools do not facilitate model-based architecture
analysis, a capability fundamental to improving enterprise
efficiency. Recent moves to certify enterprise architecture
software that provides syntactic interoperability--a common
file format, for example--are a step forward, but miss the
capability that true interoperability requires: semantic interoperability,
or the structured manner in which system interaction
KBSI’s Framework for the Interoperability of Executable Architectures
(FIEA) project is bridging the gaps among DoDAF capable
tools for defining the artifacts and products of a
DoDAF architecture and defining the mathematical model that
supports their execution for down-stream analysis, validation,
and verification. FIEA is developing the language and tools to
support, first, model execution, ensuring that operations models
are sufficiently detailed to
allow verification, validation by the
domain expert, and logical transformation
into another architectural segment. FIEA also enables the management of executable models,
ensuring that executable models yield measures of performance
and effectiveness, including performance, fault-tolerance,
availability, and security, for the various attributes of
defense-related, mission-critical operations and systems.
The FIEA technology was developed by researchers from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Electronic Systems Center (ESC), and KBSI, funded by an Air Force Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program. FIEA generates abstract executable models from basic enterprise architectures such as the DoD Architecture Framework (DoDAF) and the Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF). These abstract models can be structurally derived from enterprise architectures to which executable content can be added. Once the model is encoded in an abstract executable model language called the Executable Architecture Representation Language (EARL), numerous downstream executions, including simulation-based analysis, quantitative analysis (e.g., using queuing theory) and service-oriented architecture (SOA) deployment, can be generated automatically. This “capture once, use often” concept allows for vendor-independent model reuse across a number of executable applications without having to change the core enterprise architecture.
The FIEA approach contrasts with approaches that require the modification of the core enterprise architecture meta-model to generate executable enterprise architecture models. The EARL supports the representation of executable content outside of the core enterprise architecture. The approach exploits the full potential of the core enterprise architecture: i.e., to emulate or simulate the system that is being modeled or to auto-generate code that automates an enterprise process. An example of the latter is the generation of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)-based Web Services – Business Process Execution Language (WS-BPEL) or Web Services Choreography Description Language (WS-CDL).
The FIEA approach of developing executable architectures from enterprise architecture models using multiple layers of abstraction is effective for a number of reasons:
|| models can be inspected at various levels to ensure correctness;
||models can be reused to generate different types of executions; and
||the traceability of results along multiple levels of abstraction provides for better documentation of results and better visibility into simulation results against requirements comparisons.
The FIEA-based executable architecture language support, translators and execution support tools have been integrated into KBSI’s ModelMosaic® modeling suite. Ongoing and planned FIEA technology transition activities include installation at the AFRL/RYT nucleus lab, layered sensing architecture modeling verification and validation, and missile defense planning interoperability demonstrations with the Missile Defense Agency.