Mashups Give Defense Department Strategic Edge - Page 4

What's next

Although it may never be possible or even desirable to eliminate the human element from the conception and creation of mashups, DISA is seeking ways to streamline the process for greater efficiency.

"Lots of users are looking at lots of data and doing eyeball correlation. Ideally, we'd like to automate that," said Mihelcic. "We're looking at semantic Web technology and semantic search technology to automate these DSS tasks." Semantic Web and semantic search technology would allow Presto Enterprise Mashup Server to discover and correlate information for decision makers automatically.

In one example, DISA's EMF (Event Management Framework), a project that aims to enable the DOD to support civilian authorities during domestic emergencies, is utilizing semantic services to support its "Strategic Watch" capability. The EMF was created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina. Semantic search is also being implemented in the DIA's Overwatch project, said Mihelcic.

In addition, DISA is exploring the integration of mashup technology with social media applications such as blogs and wikis. That move would be part of a larger initiative to implement an SOA (service-oriented architecture) to support Web services across the DOD's networks.

Indeed, organizations that have implemented SOA are wise to leverage that investment by implementing mashup technology, which can mix and match data expressed as Web services. "Mashup platforms will be an invaluable tool [with which] to make use of the new services at the firm's disposal and help justify the expense," according to Forrester's report.

The desire to integrate mashup technology with other tools echoes Gualtieri's assertion that mashup technology won't be used in isolation. The most useful tools will be those that integrate across a broad application development environment, the analyst said. To that end, JackBe offers connectors for Hewlett-Packard's SOA Systinet environment, as well as for Oracle databases, Microsoft Excel, and BEA and Oracle enterprise portals.

For its part, DISA is well on its way to implementing what Mihelcic calls "a total environment for gathering, mashing up and visualizing data sources." The result: data brought together in new relationships to enable better military decisions and assure a higher level of national security.

Stan Gibson is a technology writer in the Boston area and a regular contributor to eWEEK.