Open Architechture a white paper


The purpose of this white paper is to provide a better understanding of how the United States Navy is implementing open architecture. This paper will introduce Naval Open Architecture (OA) and explain open architecture principles.

The Problem:

“In the past the Navy has acquired systems that, although they performed their functions and tasks exceedingly well, were unique in their designs and engineering; required unique parts, equipment, and services to support them; were supported by a limited number of suppliers; and became unaffordable to maintain. There are numerous instances, moreover, in which a system or platform was scrapped rather than upgraded or modernized because the cost to do so became prohibitive. Thus, the challenge for weapons systems designers and engineers is to take advantage of OA systems when it makes good warfighting and business sense to do so. When all is said and done, if an OA solution does not enhance our ability to meet mission needs at reduced costs, then it is probably not the solution we desire.”
Source: Open Architecture in Naval Combat System Computing of the 21st Century, Network-Centric Applications by Captain Thomas J. Strei, USN, Deputy, Open Architecture Program Executive Office, Integrated Warfare System

This paper will serve as a training paper and an introduction to Open Architecture
What is Naval Open Architecture?
Naval Open Architecture is defined as: A multi-faceted strategy providing a framework for developing joint, interoperable systems that adapt and exploit open system design principles and architectures.
Enterprise Open Architecture (OA) is a pattern of nonfunctional requirements that can create and maintain more open and flexible complex systems. Organizations with large, complex systems are looking to OA to help manage complexity, increase flexibility, and reduce their costs. Satisfying the OA nonfunctional requirements (open standards, modularity, interoperability, extensibility, reusability, composability, and maintainability) in system design and implementation is essential to OA at the enterprise level.
The Naval OA is a framework which includes a set of principles, processes, and best practices that:

• Provide more opportunities for competition
• Optimize total system performance
• Are easily developed and upgraded
• Minimize total ownership costs
• Rapidly field affordable, interoperable systems
• Employ non-proprietary standards for internal interfaces
• Enable component reuse

The Internet is an excellent example of an open system. Anyone can develop applications that will run on the Internet because the publicly available standard interfaces, protocols, and defined functions are the gateway for participation. Multiple vendors provide the software and hardware for Internet use. The customer base drives the vendors’ success and market share, while creating defacto interoperability, upgradability, and portability of applications.
Source: Open Architecture in Naval Combat System Computing of the 21st Century, Network-Centric Applications by Captain Thomas J. Strei, USN, Deputy, Open Architecture Program Executive Office, Integrated Warfare System

Software development and complex system development have tried to achieve the simplicity and flexibility of “plug and play” for a long time. The economic effects of open architecture’s, such as the original IBM PC and the World Wide Web, show the value of an OA as an enabler of rapid technological adoption and improvement. OA is often cited for providing several valuable business results:

• Rapid adoption of technology
• Greater flexibility in business processes and technical infrastructure
• Easier test and integration
• Rapid improvement in technology capability and performance
• Reduced system lifecycle cost through:
• Increased competition
• Easier maintenance and upgrades
• More skilled practitioners
• Greater component reuse

Why is the Navy looking to implement Open Architecture?

The world in which the Navy operates today is a significant departure from the environment dominated by Cold War tactics and the operational strategy of the last quarter of the 20th Century. Power is no longer measured just in terms of hard assets and strike capability. New threats are emerging everyday and adversaries are leveraging the commercial market to rapidly develop new and unconventional weapons. At the same time, Navy missions are expanding. The Navy is more engaged in global maritime security, humanitarian missions, warfighter operations, coalition operations and protecting our homeland.

Existing business issues that are causing the Navy to require open architecture

In an era of strenuous competition for dollars, the Navy is continuously challenged with a host of budget decisions. Previously the legacy approach to systems acquisition locked the Navy into inflexible acquisition strategies with single systems and vendors that limit the service’s options for competition and innovation. The Navy has learned that limited competition impedes innovation; OA provides options for greater competition and inclusion of innovators. Procured systems are not affordable throughout the life cycle due to the expense not only in development, but also in maintenance. Without OA there is little to no asset reuse takes place across the enterprise.

Technical issues that are causing the Navy to look to OA

Procurement of monolithic systems using legacy processes produces incompatible systems that are not interoperable. Naval software is closely coupled (integral) to the computing hardware platforms. Special-use code and modules that cannot be reused across the Navy are considered artifacts of the legacy approach to systems acquisition. Increases (and resulting life cycle cost growth) of hardware and software baselines have resulted in upgrade processes to closed systems.

Where does the Navy hope to go with OA?

Implementing OA across the enterprise will enable warfighting functions. By utilizing OA, standards-based solutions will enable common, interoperable capabilities to be fielded more rapidly, more affordably and enable more effective technology insertion. Naval enterprise-wide business plans are based on a cost/capability analysis of programs that address capability, affordability, and stabilization. There is a requirement for more flexible acquisition strategies and contracts. This will enable the Navy to reuse software, easily upgrade systems, and share data throughout the enterprise. It is time for a streamlined approach for investments in similar capabilities. Along with a streamlined approach, the Navy expects to see increased competition that will foster innovation and leverage technology upgrades across the enterprise.
The technical implementation of OA across the enterprise yields some technical challenges. The Navy seeks layered and modular open architectures that will address portability, maintainability, interoperability, upgradeability and long-term supportability. The OA approach brings modular, open designs consisting of components that are self-contained elements with well-defined interfaces. Maximum use of commercial standards and “commercial off-the-shelf” (COTS) products will assure systems that continuously conform to Information Assurance (IA) requirements.
How does Open Architecture benefit the Fleet and Other Organizations?

Continuous competition yields best of breed applications and allows for a focus on warfighting priorities.

System integration of OA compliant software happens quickly and allows for more rapid updates driven by operational cycles.

Cost Avoidance Mechanisms
Where software is concerned, develop once, use often, upgrade as required.
Where hardware is concerned, use high volume COTS products at an optimum price.
Training systems should use same tactical applications and COTS hardware.

Design for Maintenance Free Operating Periods
Install adequate processing power to support minimal maintenance.
Replacements should be pulled from improved COTS versus maintaining old hardware.
Reduce maintenance training that has been required in the past.
Consolidate development and operational testing for reused applications.

Risk Reduction
Deploy less (but better than existing) performance or wait until the next update.

Compliance Issues – Directives that apply to Open Architecture

The DoDD 5000.1 directs:
“A modular, open systems approach shall be employed, where feasible.”

In a memo, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (USD AT&L) amplified DoDD 5000.1’s direction, stating that:

• It is the DoD’s “intent to use open architectures to rapidly field affordable systems that are interoperable in the joint battle space”
• All programs subject to milestone review must brief their Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) implementation to their Milestone Decision Authority
• The Open Systems Joint Task Force (OSJTF) is the designated lead for the MOSA effort

What is Assistant Secretary of the Navy (ASN) (Research, Development & Acquisition (RDA) Policy & Guidance?

ASN’s Memo set out OA policy, established an OA Enterprise Team (OAET), and assigned its roles and responsibilities:

• Lead the Navy Enterprise to OA implementation
• Provide OA Systems Engineering leadership to Program Executive Office’s (PEOs), industry partners, Joint Organizations, Navy Warfare Centers and other participating organizations
• Provide the forum and process by which cross domain OA proposals and solutions are reviewed and approved
• Oversee OA implementation efforts ensuring standardized and disciplined processes are utilized across domains
• Identify cross-domain components and opportunities for cost reduction and reuse
• Leverage technical, business, and organizational solutions from all participating communities
• OA “precepts require naval warfare systems be independent from underlying Commercial Off-the-Shelf computing plants and that modular systems design shall be followed”

What are Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV)’s OA Principles?

OPNAV has cited five principles of OA that must be followed in order to garner its advantages:

• Modular design and disclosure
• Reusable application software
• Interoperable joint warfighting applications and secure information exchange
• Life cycle affordability
• Encouraging competition and collaboration through development of alternative solutions and sources
These five principles relate to and implement a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) within the Naval Enterprise National Security Systems.

What is Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA)?

Modular design is a design where functionality is partitioned into discrete, cohesive, and self-contained units with well-defined interfaces that enable substitution of such units with similar components or products from alternate sources with minimum impact on existing units.

Design Disclosure is the process by which information is made available to all qualified parties to enable them to participate in the competitive process. It is important to emphasize that to be effective, design disclosure must take place early in the design process and provide for frequent refreshment over time (“early and often disclosure”). Design disclosure enables the implementation of collaboration and competition throughout the life cycle of the system.

MOSA Compliance

DoD: A modular open systems approach is required by DoD Directive 5000.1 and the USD (AT&L) Memo*

Navy: The ASN (RD&A) OA Policy Memo requires that all future warfare systems must follow a “modular open systems design”

Navy: Modular design is one of OPNAV’s OA principles

The Vision

MOSA is an integral part of acquisition strategies in order to achieve affordable, evolutionary, and joint combat capability.

The MOSA approach is both a business and technical strategy for developing a new system or modernizing an existing one. Modular design and design disclosure permits evolutionary design, technology insertion, competitive innovation, and alternative competitive approaches from multiple qualified sources. Furthermore, modular design is a fundamental principle that enables other activities.

Design disclosure is a crucial tenet of the OA business process. Design disclosure makes data related to the design of a component, sub-system or system available to qualified recipients. This data is sufficient to allow the third party to develop and produce a competitive alternative. This is an integral part of the toolset that will help DoD to achieve its goal of providing the joint combat capabilities required for 21st century warfare, including supporting and evolving these capabilities over their total life cycle.

Asset Reuse

Reuse is the practice of leveraging components from one system or environment for use in other systems or environments, with no change or minimal change to the component. OA enables reuse through business practices such as contractual strategies that encourage integrators/innovators to seek and provide reusable components. Innovators should seek out technical practices that enable the development of reusable components, including development of data models, use of open standards and common run-time infrastructures.

Asset reuse is facilitated by:

• Peer review processes that consider “best of breed” from various vendors and other systems
• Repository capabilities that enable market research for discovery of existing products that have similar mission requirements
• Community of interest and product line approaches that build on existing products to provide for similar capabilities where needed

For the purpose of Naval OA, “reuse” means both importing and exporting components across domains or programs. Reuse of components by a single vendor in multiple products does not fulfill the intent of OA reuse. Reusable assets include not only software, but other items, such as models, designs, algorithms, and even contract language or acquisition documentation.

Software reuse can be applied at a variety of levels:

• Application
• Algorithm
• Architecture
• Design

Reuse concepts can be extended to other “reusable” items

• Contract language
• Acquisition documentation
• Training materials

Interoperable Joint Warfighting Applications and Secure Information Exchange

Interoperable joint warfighting applications and secure information exchange must be created using common services (e.g., common time reference) common warfighting applications and information assurance as intrinsic design elements. Interoperability is defined as “the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged.” [IEEE 90] Open architecture enables interoperability through common data models and the use of open standards.

Secure Information Exchange

According to the “Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction” [CJCSI 3170.01E], Information Assurance is defined as:

“Information operations that protect and defend information and information systems by ensuring their availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality and non-repudiation, this includes providing for restoration of information systems by incorporating protection, detection and reaction capabilities.”

To assist in assuring the protection of information a program called net-ready key performance parameter (NR-KPP) has been implemented. NR-KPP assesses information needs, information timeliness, information assurance and net-ready attributes required for both the technical exchange of information and the end-to-end operational effectiveness of that exchange.

Protecting information is vital to implementing open architecture.

Life cycle affordability

Life cycle affordability plays an important part in program decisions throughout the Life cycle. Even before a program is formally approved for initiation, affordability plays a key role in the identification of capability needs. Life cycle affordability is achieved by application of OA practices in system design, development, delivery, and support. In choosing systems it is important to remember that a system that meets performance requirements, but if the system is not reliable, maintainable, and supportable then it becomes a liability to the warfighter.

Affordability also is achieved by exploiting the Rapid Capability Insertion Process/Advanced Processor Build (RCIP/APB) methodology to mitigate COTS obsolescence. When considering life cycle cost you must consider the total cost of acquisition and ownership of a system over its useful life. This includes the cost of development, acquisition, support, and disposal.

OA promotes reduction in life cycle costs through a variety of ways. One of the primary ways is through the ability to leverage the commodity nature of COTS computing to achieve greater processing power at less cost. Another way is by decoupling system components to enable addressing capability addition or maintenance at the module level, versus the system level. Leveraging reuse of components and applications to reduce maintenance and development costs where similar mission needs exist is a third way to reduce life cycle costs.

A fourth way to reduce life cycle costs is by increasing the vendor pool thus increasing the potential for competition at most levels of the work breakdown structure. This increases competition and drives down cost and promotes innovation. The development of alternative solutions and sources encourages competition and collaboration. Since competition leads to innovation, in order to better differentiate themselves from others and thus win contracts, companies must continue to develop better and better technology. Collaboration leads to better systems as each company contributes its strength or niche component to the overall deliverable. The contractors are rewarded when the whole system performs to expectations, not just their component.

Rapid Capability Acquisition

An open modular approach, in concert with OA business methods, enables a rapid acquisition cycle. Early and often design disclosure and a peer review process facilitate ongoing competition and innovation. Software reuse and leveraging of common applications shortens cycle time and reduces life cycle cost. Modular design facilitates COTS refreshment and obsolescence mitigation. Rapid capability insertion gets new capability to the warfighter more quickly.

When are OA principles going to be applied?

OA principles are to be applied to all new programs and to in-service programs, as appropriate…

• New programs “born open”
• In-service (existing) programs may apply OA principles, as appropriate to their
• System requirements
• Remaining service life
• Potential for change either due to maintenance or new requirements
• The selection of OA attributes and component reuse approaches is determined by the Program Manager in cooperation with the sponsor
• Determine “as-is” and “to-be” state of OA attributes
• Conduct business case analysis to document the choice of appropriate courses of action

Five Principles Applied in Concert to Achieve OA

When modular design, interoperable applications, reusable application software, competition and collaboration, secure information exchange, and life cycle affordability are used together they become open architecture.

They are all important on their own, but when combined they lock together to support each other and form a matrix that enhances the core strength of the Navy and Marine Corps.

Remember the five principles, not as individual stand-alone components but as a system that has five integral parts that center around Open Architecture. Together they make the Navy and Marine Corps a more effective military force.


Naval Open Architecture is the confluence of business and technical practices yielding modular, interoperable systems that adhere to open standards with published interfaces. This approach significantly increases opportunities for innovation and competition while enabling reuse of components, facilitating rapid technology insertion and reducing maintenance constraints. OA delivers increased warfighting capabilities in a shorter time at reduced cost. This initiative is a key enabler and pillar of DoD focus on joint architectures and evolutionary acquisition.

By adopting OA principles throughout the Naval enterprise today, the Navy can build modular, affordable, future national security systems designed to meet the future needs of warfighters. These systems will also be able to readily incorporate insertion of new technologies from a broad range of industry partners. However, as the CNO states, “The Navy will remain powerful … by exploiting cutting edge technology.” The Navy must identify our path forward. This strategy lays out the Navy’s vision, goals, and objectives to implement OA across the enterprise. This document presents three overarching high level Naval OA goals and supporting objectives. Underlying activities and work products are detailed in the implementation plan.