Last week we asked the UK Cabinet Office to tell us what a DIS box is, but the statement we got in response was somewhat bashful. Getting a complete answer to the question is however extremely important, as a DIS (Departmental Integration Service) box is a necessary component for government departments and local authorities to purchase if they're going to get online with the Government Gateway.
They don't, you should be aware, have a great deal of choice about this either. Prime Minister Tony Blair has set a deadline of 2005 for having all government services online, so they will do it. The Government Gateway itself uses Microsoft software and Dell hardware, but the Cabinet Office wasn't specific about what the DIS boxes use, simply stating that "Each connecting department or organisation uses DIS in order to interchange XML messages with the Gateway in a trusted, secure and reliable manner."
Microsoft's own overview of the Government Gateway architecture, which has now fallen into our clutches, displays no such reticence. At the Government end we have Windows 2000 Advanced Server, Commerce Server, SQL Server 2000 and BizTalk Server, while DIS consists of Windows 2000 Advanced Server, SQL Server 2000, and Biztalk Server. There, Cabinet Office, that wasn't difficult, was it?
This confirms that, pending the Gateway's delivery on the commitment to support "other reliable messaging technologies such as MQseries," 480 government departments and 200 agencies will have to buy Intel hardware and a sizeable wodge of Microsoft server software in order to achieve Blair's target. And as we don't know how "other reliable messaging technologies" will be supported, it's perfectly conceivable that even after they are, the MS DIS box will still be necessary.
This will represent a substantial amount of revenue for Microsoft UK, and a serious expense for local government. When Microsoft's participation in the Gateway was announced last year, it was desribed as the largest Biztalk installation so far. One begins to see why. ®