What is DIS ting called box?
The MS key to the UK Government Gateway, perchance?
What, friends, is a DIS box? The answer to this question is clearly of some considerable importance to the partners, government departments and local government bodies who'll be putting their services online via the UK's Government Gateway, because as you can see here, step 12 in the first steps in getting online with the Gateway is "select a DIS box and commence procurement for this box."
A little further on (under checklist) there's a bit more information about DIS boxes, confirming that it is to some extent hardware that you have to install at your end in order to connect to the Gateway and thus to offer your services through the Gateway, but what is is more precisely, and where you get one, is entirely unclear. We asked the usual suspects who hang around the E-Envoy's Office and govtalk waiting to cry foul, but they didn't know either. So we asked the Cabinet Office, and this is what we got:
Department Integrated Service (DIS)
DIS provides the reliable messaging interface between departments and the Gateway. Each connecting department or organisation uses DIS in order to interchange XML messages with the Gateway in a trusted, secure and reliable manner.
DIS receives messages from the Gateway that contain XML documents to be passed on to the department. DIS also receives responses and requests from the department that are either fully processed on DIS or passed up to the Gateway for processing.
Specific DIS-to-department interfaces and data exchanges are developed on an individual basis as each department comes on-line with the Gateway. This is to ensure that these interfaces meet each department's specific technical needs. An initial set of generic interfaces are supplied as part of the standard DIS installation. Each department can use these generic descriptions to create their own department-specific interfaces to DIS in order to be able to successfully connect to and interact with the Gateway. We have committed to opening up the Gateway to use other reliable messaging technologies such as MQseries so those departments that already have this technology will be able to connect to the Gateway. Other reliable messaging technologies may also be built into the Gateway if departments demand it.
The OeE is working with suppliers in order that they can provide Gateway connectivity services to departments as off the shelf solutions using a range of technologies (including BizTalk and MQseries). This will provide choice for departments and a competitive market will help provide cost efficient solutions.
Note that this doesn't tell you exactly what it is or where you get it either, but the more paranoid among us might muse that the bit that says "We have committed to opening up the Gateway to use other reliable messaging technologies such as MQSeries" is a strong hint that IBM has been, at least for the moment, stitched.
One of the usual suspects has however now come back to us with the shock allegation that "Last I heard on this, they were some kind of Dell/Microsoft concoction." Which presumably means a large Intel server, Biztalk and SQL Server going into any partner, department or local government putting their services online via the Gateway. As the E-Envoy's CEO of E-delivery Alan Mather puts it, that tots up to 480 government departments and 200 agencies, which tots up to quite a lot of revenue for some people. If, that is, that combination really is and remains a requirement. So is it? And will it?
As it says elsewhere on govtalk, "Regular independent reviews of the Government Gateway project have been carried out, in collaboration with the Office of Government Commerce, to ensure best practice is applied to all areas of the Gateway's procurement and governance." So that's alright then, isn't it? ®
* Apropos of nothing, at time of writing if you go here, you will see a rather confusing list of "published documents" dealing with interoperability. As to our knowledge the page has been like that for in excess of 24 hours, there's every chance it'll stay like that all weekend. But in case not, it currently says:
Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers error '80040e14'
[Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver][SQL Server]Invalid column name 'id'.
/interoperability/egif.asp, line 115
Good work, chaps, keep it up.