An Open Fleet
The Navy’s push for open architecture is beginning to bear fruit
By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Special Correspondent
“I believe open architecture is
absolutely vital to the Navy moving
forward,” Benedict said. “We should
certainly see, over time, reduced
cost through competition, and I
think what we’ll see is a consolida-
tion of core competencies, which I
think will have a positive effect both
on industry and on the Navy.”
The Navy has spent several
years working with industry to
agree on a definition of what open
architecture is. Benedict said the
concept has been better laid out by
the Navy in recent documents and
technical descriptions that have
been shared with industry, making
it easier to pursue open architecture in programs by
putting everyone on the same page.
“We’ve worked pretty diligently to do that,” he said.
“My whole premise in writing things down is that if folks
say, ‘I disagree,’ now we can see what page, what para-
graph, what sentence, what word, and now we can have
a very focused discussion rather than all talking about
our vision, our perspective of open architecture and real-
ly not communicating.”
The Navy has recently started writing open architec-
ture requirements into the gate-review process. Here,
programs are reviewed by service leadership during
significant stages — or gates — of the acquisition
process to determine, among other things, whether a
program has valid requirements, appropriately defined
concepts, a sound acquisition strategy and can be exe-
cuted within budget.
In November, Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of
the Navy for research, development and acquisition,
announced during Defense Daily’s Open Architecture
Summit in Washington that the Navy had made open
architecture a requirement at the gate review for the
first time with the Next Generation Enterprise
The Navy is pushing for systems and networks that can be upgraded with simple software patches, common components and
commercial, off-the-shelf products.
■ A challenge for the Navy and industry has been trying to define
just what open architecture is.
■ Open architecture has allowed prime contractors to take
advantage of small business innovations, dipping into a wider
knowledge pool than was available in the past.
■ Open architecture is being made a requirement in the gate
review process for Navy programs.
The Navy’s goal of opening up networks and cre- ating a more software-based fleet — a concept called open architecture — has gradually become
a more integral part of how the sea service executes its programs, whether they be legacy systems or new platforms.
Contract language, program gate reviews and other
fundamental aspects of how the Navy runs programs are
starting to reflect an increasing reliance on open architecture, according to Rear Adm. Terry Benedict, program
executive officer for integrated warfare systems.
“I think it’s started to be part of the way we do business
rather than just something we have to go do,” he said.
Open architecture refers to the Navy’s push to get
away from systems and networks that are specialized
and tied to specific hardware, requiring expensive
overhauls when they need an update. Instead, the service wants systems that can be upgraded with simple
software patches and using common components and
commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) products.
This strategy is designed to allow the Navy to reduce
costs and create a more flexible fleet that has greater
interoperability and can adapt to the latest processes
and technological advancements more quickly.