The British Army marches on its stomach, fights for king, queen, god and country, upholds itself as a bastion of exemplary standards and is never afraid to say ‘stop it, that’s silly’ if things get out of hand.
Like any ‘organisation’, the British Army is also focused on the process of so-called digital transformation.
Our force’s technology interest (like any organisation) today is of course focused on data in environments where that data is operational and intelligence information of life-changing importance. This isn’t just mission critical, it’s military mission critical.
A major multi-vendor open technology consortium is now working to improve the Army’s understanding of the readiness of its troops and equipment.
The consortium’s lead partner is German softwarehaus Software AG.
Software AG reminds us that, like many organisations, the British Army is saddled with a number of overlapping legacy technologies, with information siloed in many different systems and databases contracted to different system integrators.
Don’t mention the monoliths
The Army has now been on a journey to decompose large monolithic internally developed applications to loosely coupled services, designed to be externalised.
To do so, it required an API (Application Programme Interface) management platform to enable governance, monitoring, securing and support of the APIs — this is what it gets from Software AG, along with software to integrate with large defence applications to expose reference data and services.
Software AG’s webMethods integration platform and its CentraSite (an API catalogue and services registry) are the two technology bases in use here.
“Without effective data and services, it’s very difficult for planners to understand our forces’ state of readiness, or to create much-needed services for our soldiers; this is where the Software AG API suite is adding real value” said Lt Col Dorian Seabrook, head of operations at Army Software House.
The use of Software AG’s API Management capability is said to enable a range of services across boundaries, drawing information from numerous systems to support a range of functions from HR, equipment availability, operational readiness, payment of reserves and trialling remote processing automation on legacy systems.
Head of UK public sector and alliances for Software AG Clive Freedman has said that, like many public-sector organisations, budget cuts mean that the Armed Forces are being asked to do more with less.
“The British Army has looked at how businesses in the private sector are using technologies such as Master Data Management (MDM) and APIs to improve data sharing and visibility, save money and boost effectiveness,” said Freedman.
Truth be told then, the British Army is now following an API-first strategy for interoperability to data and services that have been thus far not possible — that’s not silly.