Clearing the Air on Army Knowledge Online (AKO)

There has been some recent discussion in the media about the status of the Army Knowledge Online program. Certain organizations are trying to diminish one of the most successful knowledge and process management systems ever launched in the federal government; one that has saved the U.S. Army more than $500M per year according to congressional reports.

There is no question that the AKO criticism is coming from parties that stand to gain financially if the Army spends hundreds of millions of dollars to substitute this system with inferior technology. The fighting men and women in the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, and state-side service personnel, have too much hanging in the balance to be subjected to these sorts of self-interested machinations.

For what it’s worth, the truth is this: the AKO discussion is an issue regarding a program for enterprise email for the Army and DoD. It is not an issue related to AKO’s other functions, or Appian’s BPM software.

Mike Krieger, the Army’s deputy CIO, made this clear when he told the Army Times that Army has no plans to shutter AKO. “AKO’s not going away,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is go to one managed enterprise service for email and take down email everywhere else it’s been redundant.”

AKO is a program managed and primed by Northrop Grumman that encapsulates many different technologies (Appian BPM, Autonomy Search, SUN Email, video conferencing, and more). There are commercial organizations that have tried to turn the current discussion into an attack on Appian’s scalability and security, and that is simply a fabrication with no bearing in fact.

The current AKO stats prove the point:

  • 2.45 million active users
  • 3,128 process models
  • 460,524 active processes
  • Approximately 20,000 daily tasks completed
  • 15.95 million documents
  • 21 terabytes of data
  • 268,090 published pages
  • 1.6 million forum posts
  • Back in 2008, AKO surpassed 1 Billion logins

Appian additionally supports a few hundred thousand users on AKO’s SIPRNET (Secret Network) and handles all of the complex security requirements around that. AKO demonstrates our ability to scale far beyond the range of our competitors. Over the 10 years we’ve been running at AKO, literally millions of people have used our software as part of their daily business. We’ve navigated several major system upgrades, and we’ve met the Defense Department’s requirements for security, disaster recovery, and availability at every step.

We’ve fed the lessons learned from all this experience back into our product and professional services, so that even though most of our customers have absolutely no connection to AKO or the DoD, they still benefit.

Additionally, we have many other government and commercial reference accounts demonstrating industry-leading scalability and security. We have more than 30 government agencies, plus major customers in financial services, insurance, manufacturing, telecommunications and other industries, supporting tens of thousands of users on single deployments. There is not a single other BPM vendor in the world with experience or references running BPM in these types of environments with these security and scalability requirements.

As for those commercial organizations that are confused (or are trying to create confusion) about the real issues at AKO: they could be forgiven, as they have no customer presence or experience in the U.S. government.

-Ben Farrell, Director, Corporate Communications