|First Portal Conference Enlightens Developers, Programmers |
First Portal Conference Enlightens Developers, Programmers
By Tech. Sgt. Darlene M. Foote, Standard Systems Group Public Affairs.
Maxwell Air Force Base, Gunter Annex, Alabama -- (AFPN) March 26, 2001 -- More than 200 information system developers and programmers from throughout the Air Force recently met here for the first-ever Air Force Portal Developer's Conference.
The three-day event allowed participants to gain the knowledge needed to integrate their respective information systems into the Air Force portal -- a measure Air Force officials say is intended to help our nation's warfighters.
Currently the Air Force has hundreds of separately managed computer systems. Many use different application system software, very often not compatible with each other. Many of these systems have automated point-to-point interfaces, but many also require manual exchange of data.
The web-based portal technology will bring these systems all to a single desktop, said John M. Gilligan, principle deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for business and information management.
"The Air Force portal will give the warfighters the ability to view information needed to do their job without regard to the system managing that information," Gilligan said. "This means a maintainer, stationed anywhere in the world, will be able to log onto his computer, check his e-mail, find out the status of the parts he ordered and find out what time the aircraft that needs those parts is scheduled to take-off, with nothing more than a Web browser loaded on his desktop computer."
But, it does not stop there, officials said.
The portal also will give members the ability to do from their desks what they used to have to leave the office to accomplish. This includes handling military personnel issues as well as finance actions like changing deductions and allotments.
While the concept may sound exciting, the challenge is making systems communicate that were not designed for Web browser access or to work together, and then pass that knowledge to those who need it.
The conference's primary goal was to equip system developers with the technical information they need to determine how their systems will integrate into the portal, and also the technical background they need to comply with Global Combat Support System-Air Force planning guidance.
The goal was met, said Lt. Col. Glenn Murphy, defense information infrastructure division chief and conference coordinator.
"It was a success. We got a tremendous amount of detail to a public that needs to use it," Murphy said. "The conference also initiated some healthy dialogue between the people who are defining the management processes and those who will have to live by and develop systems using those processes."
Conference attendees also felt the meeting was worthwhile.
"Although many of us ended up with a lot more questions than we realized we had, we were pleased with the outcome," said Capt. Sam Bass, Air Mobility Command Computer Systems Squadron. "There's a lot to be done and a lot of ingenuity required to do it, but I feel equipped to make it happen."
Developers have been mandated to have all unclassified combat and mission support and service applications available through a single Air Force portal by July 1.
"While progress has been made," Murphy said, "there is still a lot to be accomplished." Currently, there are more than 65,000 people registered on the portal. The portal will ultimately accommodate nearly one million users.
"The goal is to have all major systems linked into the portal and running by July," Murphy said.
"It will take a lot of hard work, and we're going to do everything in our power to make it happen." (Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)