By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2003-10-20 Print this article Print

In 2001, Adm. William Fallon, vice chief of naval operations, created Task Force Web, an initiative to winnow the Navys thousands of legacy applications. The program called for all Navy applications to be Web-enabled by next year and available to some 720,000 Navy users via the Navy Enterprise Portal.

The task proved to be much larger than anyone thought. At the time, the Navy had about 200,000 applications in use, many of which were deployed at the department level and overlapped with those in other Navy units. To control that environment, the Navy decided to deploy a portal based on a Web services architecture. It was decided the portal would be based on open standards, so the Navy chose to build its Web services architecture using the J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) environment.

The Navy spent about $1 million to develop internally a middleware layer that enables the agency to substitute standards or data definitions without forcing changes to user services or underlying databases. This portal connector links the Navys disparate legacy applications and Web services.

"We have applications [such as warfare simulation programs] that provide the intentions of the good guys and others that supply the intention of the bad guys," Howell said. "You want to bring those together to see the whole picture, and a single Web service could show a common operational picture."

SPAWAR—which acquires and deploys the technology used in ships and airplanes, as well as in network operating centers in the continental United States and overseas—decided single sign-on would be the most effective way to handle identity management for users to access the Navy Enterprise Portal.

"Users could have 100,000 identities, all with their own way of granting authorizations, and our primary thought was how to make this work as were migrating these applications into a Web services environment," Howell said. "The Web services architecture will enable us to implement a unique, globally available identity to every user, and with that in place, well be able to enable single sign-on."

Because of the Navys need to support personnel and contractors stationed around the globe, SPAWAR chose to support single-sign-on capabilities that are managed as a reusable Web service.

For identity management authorization, SPAWAR decided to use open standards, including SAML; XML; Simple Object Access Protocol; and Universal Description, Discovery and Integration. This led to the Navys decision earlier this year to pilot Oblix Inc.s NetPoint Identity Management and Access Control Solution 6.1 because Oblix supports SAML.

Next page: Sea Trials

As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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