Modelling and Simulation (M&S) is a powerful tool that is used to support training and analysis of military operations, development of military concepts and gradually, it is becoming an integral part of modern C3I systems. As the web has evolved, new ways of carrying out modelling and simulation and realizing C3I systems have emerged. These achievements address some of the research issues considered vital for future development of the M&S/C3I domain. Firstly, web related technologies provide means of overcoming the interoperability barriers, for example through standardized data exchange formats (such as XML), platform independent software (for example Java) and shared knowledge of a domain (semantics). Secondly, networked environments offer ways of setting up virtual organisations, sharing common goals and interests, to efficiently collaborate in problem solving. Finally, computer networks promote efficient sharing of resources, which for example could increase the reuse of existing models or utilize idle processing capacity of computers.
At the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) there is ongoing research, targeting the role of network/web based technologies in M&S, to support defence communities in their work. Our vision comprises an environment supporting the entire M&S-process, including conceptualization, scenario definition, design, development and execution. All these tasks should be maintained by a framework for collaboration, which lets users; developers, analysts, administrators etc, jointly work on a project. During the first phase of this research focus has been on efficient resource sharing and means of collaboration. Through experimental research and implementation of a prototype (NetSim), methods and techniques have been identified to form a framework for collaborative work, resource management and distributed execution.
Following current trends within development of networked applications, decentralized (Peer-to-Peer) solutions were of primary focus when implementing the prototype. Based on the open source Peer-to-Peer platform JXTA, two distinct components of our envisioned system were implemented, namely; a decentralized resource management system deploying a network of workstation for execution of HLA federations and a collaborative environment for joint modelling of federations. Our results show that the utilization of Peer-to-Peer concepts for resource sharing and collaboration are favourable in terms of scalability, robustness and fault tolerance. The technology allows formation of virtual organisations without the need of intermediate resources like centralized and powerful servers. However, some aspects of our implementation temporarily rely on central control, thereby diminishing the benefits of the Peer-to-Peer paradigm. Future research will therefore address distributed algorithms for synchronisation of collaborative work and a more flexible and extendable approach to resource management. Furthermore, as many studies have pointed out before, one of the great challenges of any type of Peer-to-Peer system is discovery and matching of resources. This is an area that deserves great attention when planning for the next generation C3I/M&S tools.
NATO Modeling and Simulation Group, Symposium on C3I and M&S Interoperability, Antalya, Turkey, October 2003.