Tag Archive for Federal Government

CorasWorks Highlights Shared Application Services Successes at TechNet Land Forces–East

Last week we were at the TechNet Land Forces – East conference in Baltimore.  This years theme was Cyber Security.  There were more than 1,000 people from the Defense and Intelligence agencies/industry plus about 100 exhibitors.  This year we highlighted customer application successes at the Army, Navy, and Marines leveraging the CorasWorks-on-SharePoint “Enterprise Shared Application Services” (ESAS) model.  In this article, I’ll talk about the footprint of CorasWorks-on-SharePoint across the Defense and Intelligence landscape, how it enables a shared application services model and talk about some applications that we showed, and, wrap up with some thoughts about how ESAS may evolve.

CorasWorks for Defense/Intel since 2003

CorasWorks has been serving the Defense and Intelligence sector since we started in 2003.  One of our first projects was building out a system to manage Warfighter exercises for the US Army that required near real time changes.  During this time we also used the beta version of SharePoint 2003 to support a mock Federal Disaster Management exercise.   Over the last 9 years, core web-based infrastructure has evolved a great deal, the SharePoint platform has changed, CorasWorks application technology has matured, the CorasWorks footprint has grown tremendously, and, the approach to delivering on the customers’ mission has matured.

The Current Enabling Footprint

I’ll talk about our footprint in the Defense/Intel sector from 4 perspectives.  Each of these relates to the enablement of the shared applications services model and how it impacts the overall mission of Defense/Intel sector.

Adoption – CorasWorks has been deployed broadly across the Army, Navy, and Marines.  It is also widely deployed across DoD Special Operations Commands, Homeland Security, Intelligence agencies, and, amongst supporting civilian agencies such as Dept of Justice and Dept of State.  This means that our solution platform is already deployed on SharePoint which makes it available to all supported users across each of these agencies and can support inter-agency collaboration.

Certifications – CorasWorks has maintained a number of key certifications for our flagship CorasWorks Solution Platform product (now in version 11) across SharePoint 2003, SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010.  These include Certificate of Networthiness (Army), Dept of State, DADMS (Navy/Marines), and Technical Reference Manual (Dept of Homeland Security).

Systems Integrator Support – More than half of the top 50 Federal Systems Integrators are engaged in delivering solutions that leverage CorasWorks on SharePoint.  In some agencies, we have 10-20 organizations all building different solutions, but, leveraging the common CorasWorks-SharePoint platform.  With the broad availability of CorasWorks on these enterprise environments, it is very practical for these systems integrators to look to leverage CorasWorks first as opposed to planning to write custom compiled code that needs to be installed into the environment (SharePoint and/or non-SharePoint) with the attendant delays and risks.

Base of Agency Citizen Developers – Over the years, the personnel in the agencies have learned to leverage CorasWorks as “citizen developers”.  This term was coined by Gartner in 2010 and highlighted in a case study of the US Marines and its use of CorasWorks and SharePoint (Case Study: Citizen Developers Help the U.S. Marine Corps Improve Its Knowledge Management – Gartner ID:G00201455).  These individuals are able to modify CorasWorks-based applications in real time to meet situational needs without requiring environment changes (or they can build new ones without affecting the IT environment).  A more recent Gartner report in June of 2011 further expands on Citizen Developers (and references CorasWorks) and its growing importance in delivering value and also in providing a more secure IT operational environment ((Citizen Developers Are Poised to Grow, 2011 – Gartner ID: G00213183). 

Application Successes and Success of Shared Application Services

At TechNet we highlighted three applications as follows:

Configuration Management (US Navy) – This system centrally manages a range of configuration activities including equipment life cycle, design, fabrication, and, assembly of equipment, and change requests.

Project Portfolio Reporting (US Army) – For a major command, this system provides visibility, reporting and data analysis for senior staff across a broad portfolio of project work throughout the command.

Combat Development Command (US Marines) – This system manages requests for equipment, training, and capabilities across the globe, providing real time visibility throughout the life cycle to senior staff.

Taken individually each application represents a best of breed, custom tailored system supporting a broad group of users.  Each rivals the best option for a far more expensive custom developed system.  However, each of these applications was created leveraging CorasWorks-on-SharePoint.  This means that they did not require custom compiled code development (and thus no new code deployment by IT was required on the enterprise infrastructure).  Accordingly, they were designed and developed to leverage the existing “enterprise shared application services” platform of CorasWorks v11 on SharePoint. 

While each of these systems were built with involvement from CorasWorks Professional Services they also leveraged third-party systems integrators and in-house personnel.  In addition, they are just one of many different applications leveraging the same infrastructure and various teams of people that are able to design and build applications that are part of the inter-connected framework of applications running on the shared application environment in each of these commands. (Meaning, fewer siloes and greater inter-connection.)

Considering the Future of Enterprise Shared Application Services (ESAS) Environments

For the last five years, the approach of enterprise shared application services (ESAS) has been increasingly adopted.  This adoption has often been driven by reasons of proven results, cost-effectiveness and manageability of the approach. Yet, while the infrastructure is broadly in place the overall recognition and use is still in its infancy.

Today, there are a number of forces at work that could accelerate the adoption of ESAS.  Right now, there is a major push for better managed infrastructure/networks lead by initiatives for Private Clouds, Public Clouds, and overall Cyber Security.  Part of the emphasis is lower costs, but also, greater manageability to reduce the surface area of risks/exposure.

Logically, I believe that the emphasis on infrastructure should naturally shift to the application layer and follow the logic that leads to ESAS.  It goes like this – add a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) ESAS layer, with very pliable software, such as CorasWorks-SharePoint, to support a broad set of application requirements and thereby reduce the exposure to risks inherent in siloed, custom built applications, while achieving comparable results at less cost and time.

Realistically, I don’t envision a super majority adoption of an ESAS-model in the next few years in the Defense and Intelligence sector.  But, over the next 10 years, an acceptance of simpler applications, the need for more manageable environments up through the application layer, along with continued innovation in the pliability of application software, can drive the tipping point towards ESAS.


Presentation on Social Business to Federal SharePoint User Group

This past week I made a presentation to the Federal SharePoint User Group on CorasWorks Cim v2.0 for Social Business on SharePoint 2010.   I’ve attached the presentation for your reference.  The presentation was oriented to a standard SharePoint audience, particularly one that is looking to migrate or beginning to leverage SharePoint 2010.  I’ll cover some of the key points made in the Social Business Overview and in the live Demonstration.

Key Points of Social Business Overview

- Social Business software is used to enhance engagement of users and collaboration across an enterprise.  It is gaining rapid adoption amongst early adopters.  SharePoint customers are gradually adopting it, a bit slower than the early adopters in the general market.

- The association AIIM has done some quality work in the area.  They have 65,000 members and have specialized in document/record management for 60 years – going back to film.  They are educating their members on the difference between Systems of Record (like SharePoint for Enterprise Content Management) and the new Systems of Engagement (Social Business Systems) and how enterprise IT needs to plan for the addition of such systems in their environments.  Here is a link to the white paper Systems of Engagement and the Future of Enterprise IT written by Geoffrey Moore and based on an AIIM task force on the subject.

- CorasWorks Cim v2.0 allows SharePoint users to drop an integrated System of Engagement on top of their SharePoint environment.  This differs from other market offerings which are advocating for customers to buy separate Systems of Engagement, often running SAAS.  Our message is that you are able to drive a great deal more business value by sticking with SharePoint and laying Cim on top.

- We lay out a Social Business Value Continuum with three main levels of business value.  Most Social Business vendors stop at the first level – Social Collaboration.  Cim enables organizations to drive up the stack into Social Business Processes (that combine Social Collaboration with structured Business Processes) and Social Business Systems (that go the next step and allow for distributed, interconnected systems across a SharePoint environment and to external services/applications, such as our Idea and Innovation Management solution).

- In addition, while other offerings, including SharePoint 2010 itself are primarily targeting the Social side of the equation, highlighting features such as social network, profiles, tagging and personal activity, CorasWorks Cim is focused on the Business side with features such as communities of purpose, business activity stream (no friend feeds), integration of communities with structured business processes, stage-gate support, configurable business actions and activity, reporting and analytics.  And, because we leverage SharePoint, we integrate the pure Social side into the equation, but, within the Business context.

- Cim runs natively on SharePoint, storing its data in SharePoint and leveraging it for administration and security as well as additional capabilities.


Key Points of Demonstration

The demonstration was a scenario of “A Day in the Life of a Process Improvement Idea”.  It showed how an idea flowed through a process that includes all 3 stages of the Value Continuum.  The key points where:

- Cim provides a “collaborative community experience”.  Thus, communities are not necessarily sites you have to go to.  Users are able to engage in a “community/process” from any place across SharePoint – team sites, my sites, department portals, etc. From there, they can See, Contribute, and Collaborate in one or more Cim communities, business processes, or systems across SharePoint.

- Communities may be for collaboration such as for departmental collaboration or for project managers across an organization and/or they may be tied to more specific business purposes and processes such as application change requests, knowledge pipelines, new product development.

- With Cim, users create Articles – a new rich, robust, collaborative document.  Each article is a living document that over its life-cycle may contain text, documents, comments, ratings, peer reviews, management reviews, stage approvals, final decisions, tasks and more.  We don’t talk about collaborating on or processing a Word document any more.  We talk about working on an Idea, a Contract, a Proposal, a Project, a Policy, a Solution, an Issue, an Initiative, etc. 

- The activity of users across communities or by others on items you submit (either collaborative or as part of a business process) are available to you via your personal “business activity stream” (a new Cim v2.1 feature). 

- We showed how the Process Improvements community is tied to a structured Stage-Gate based Business Process.  Management puts the contributions through a set of stages, each of which has business activities that get kicked off and completed, to move it to the next stage.  The process may be light and quick or longer and more involved with complex business activities.

- We also showed how one business activity within a stage can be to task a team to do something.  The system creates a task item in the SharePoint team site of that team.  It is related to the Article and users can interact, ie., the people in the team can do their work on the task and the managers of the process can see and act accordingly.

- After a decision is made on the idea, we showed how the user could push the idea into a “downstream” and related business process.  We showed pushing the idea into a Program Management Office to kick off a project and pushing it into a SharePoint team for implementation. 



The core message of the presentation is that organizations using SharePoint are in a fantastic position to leverage their environment to layer on Systems of Engagement that dramatically improve their efficiency and effectiveness.  It is much more than just Social Collaboration.  It is about enabling your organization to drive up this new business value continuum by leveraging collaboration within business processes that drive results. 

In addition, vendors such as CorasWorks are rapidly creating innovative solutions that can be added to your SharePoint environment.  And, since our solutions are designed for SharePoint, they inter-operate.  In reality, SharePoint is arguably the most “open platform” for Enterprise 2.0.  It isn’t about open-source code, the key to value, is to have an open application environment where users can collaborate, see activity and participate in processes enabled by product vendors, service providers, customer IT, and, the day-to-day activity of business users.

Imagine that – Microsoft SharePoint 2010 – the open Enterprise 2.0 application environment. Move over Open-Source folks, it is Open-App time.