The Four Interdependent Dimensions of Cross-Domain Interoperability

There is more to building an effective, interoperable system than the underlying technology. The QuadTrangle™ developed by the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium shows the four, interdependent areas that must be considered when developing a reliable and trusted interoperable environment: business, culture, governance and technical. The illustration also underscores how the consortium works by focusing on both the technical structure and bigger picture to get to the solution that will enable cross-domain interoperability.

Even the best technical applications can fail if they do not align with business goals and financial needs, laws and regulations, and cultural considerations. The interaction, influence and impact of these factors should be taken into account when planning and/or implementing technology change.

The technical solution must make business sense for both providers and consumers. The business case at each level in the affected industries or domains will influence what will be considered acceptable and viable solutions. Organizational missions, objectives and resources will affect the motivation, cost, complexity and timing of implementing the technology.

The biggest barriers to success are often the cultural norms that exist in and across businesses, industries, governments and nations. The enduring and common values, beliefs and practices held by the people who are implementing, being served and being impacted by the change add complexity and constraints to reaching an acceptable technical solution. And, since these influencing factors take the longest to change, they must be worked within and/or around in order to successfully implement a system.

Technology change must fit within the laws, treaties, regulations, standards and policies of the affected domains and nations. This will enable the solution to gain acceptance, endorsements and long-term use. There may be agreements, processes and procedures in place that facilitate the change or that conflict with one another and need revision. Conversely, a lack of governance may be inhibiting interoperability, and guidelines or standards to encourage solutions may be needed.

Physics still trumps all. The solution may meet the stated goals and sufficiently address the other influencers, but it won’t be implementable if it doesn’t technically work. The ability to interface/interoperate with the desired technologies will impact its availability and the time required for implementation. New technology may need a period of acceptance testing to see if it is the proper fit for the problem to be addressed or service offered, and older technologies may have to be abandoned.

Using its proven Analysis of Alternatives Process, NCOIC experts explore the influences and effects of these dimensions of cross-domain interoperability in assessing a customer’s requirements and situation. With an understanding of the various barriers and opportunities in all four areas, they then identify and evaluate the various technology solutions, make recommendations, and deliver a roadmap for achieving the interoperable environment with the greatest probability for long-term success.