British Army Utilizes APIs for Increased Logistic Efficiency

Large organizations that have existed for centuries have employed computer technology since its innovation. 50 years ago, large-scale organizations contracted developers to utilize 1960s software and hardware technology to create systems that advantageously advanced the accomplishment of their missions. In subsequent decades, this software was tuned for evolving situations. Along the way, errors identified in the original software were corrected as time proceeded.

The net result is that a large organization today will have a large base of well-tested software with confirmed validity. The problem, however, is that much of this validated software was developed using legacy software languages for which support today is mostly unavailable. In addition, a large organization may have developed hundreds of such systems, but they exist as stand-alone entities within the organization.

Today, efficiency requires integration of data from multiple platforms in order to provide decision-makers a comprehensive vision of current status and available options that will satisfy current objectives. Building APIs that access the legacy software using modern software technology is the best way to provide these decision-makers with the opportunity to accomplish this.

Recognizing this, the British Army is now on a journey to decompose large monolithic internally developed applications to loosely coupled services. The objective is to coordinate data availability from the proven legacy platforms in order to facilitate management of resources that are critical to soldiers on the battlefield or in a state of readiness.

Dorian Seabrook, head of Operations at Army Software House, said: “Without effective data and services, it’s difficult for planners to understand our forces’ state of readiness, or to create much-needed services for our soldiers.”

Software AG was chosen “to spearhead the Army’s digital transformation strategy and create an API management platform that will securely connect systems and data and enable integration with legacy systems.”

Software AG is addressing the enhanced security requirements for military applications. Clive Freedman, Head of UK Public Sector and Alliances for Software AG, said:

“There is an additional security challenge, of course, but our compliance and assurance team has worked closely with the Army to secure data and access, while also providing penetration testing and on-going technical expertise.”

The overall benefits of this innovation for the British Army are summarized in the Software AG press release:

The benefits for the Army’s API first strategy include increased interoperability with access to data and services that have been thus far not possible, increased organisational agility and return of investment on provided services. To the users, API Management will enable quicker release of much needed capabilities, reduce siloed systems which require duplication of data and greater ability to expose services to personal devices. The ability to integrate to wider Defence systems with a solution that can be re-used across multiple suppliers has great potential to be able to provide reference data that is needed to inform decision making.

APIs are the bridge between well-tested, proven legacy platforms and modern innovation. The British Army recognizes the value of their legacy software, but also recognizes the need for integration of the information those platforms provide into a comprehensive data view for today’s decision-makers. Software AG is providing this integration.

–Kevin Farnham