Standards provide an agreed way of doing something. Both DIS and HLA are internationally recognized standards for the design and exchange of simulation data elements. By employing sets of standards the network designers can predict how data will flow, what needs to occur in the translation of that data, and be confident in the validity of the data exchange outcomes. Ultimately the practice of using recognized standards should result in reducing both risk and cost.
With the experience of employing M&S standards and thousands of hours of using the simulations to support events that include training, testing, and planning the community has developed a number of tools. These tools assist in network design and data exchange. When used, the tools provide an ability to improve the quality of data exchange, limit error, and provide reliable technical capabilities. The US Defense Modeling and Simulation Coordination Office has long supported the development and use of tools that target M&S interoperability. Two important products coming out of that support are:
FEAT – The Federated Engineering Agreements Template (FEAT) benefits developers, managers, and users of distributed simulations by providing a well defined and easily read (human and machine) format for recording agreements about the design and use of the distributed simulation. The template also benefits this community by enabling the development of federation engineering tools that can read the schema and perform federation engineering tasks automatically (SISO, 2013, p. 2).
Gateways – Gateways are protocol translators developed for distributed simulations. They provide for interoperability among different types of simulation architectures. There are versions of gateways that convert the Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) protocol to High Level Architecture (HLA) Run-Time Infrastructure (RTI) service calls, and vice versa. While there is no recognized standard for the design of gateways they are recognized tools and today’s M&S multi-architecture networks could not function without their use (Fig 4).