NDER will fundamentally change the way AC/135 communicates codification data. Every NCB is impacted, regardless of whether they are from a NATO, Tier Two or Tier One country.
What is NDER? Who does NDER impact? When is NDER delivered? What will NDER do? What does each NCB need to do? How much will NDER cost? How will NDER change National Military Logistics Systems? What processes are changing? Will NDER allow the sharing of photos? Data Message traffic – What will change? What is included in a NSN Full Data Record? How much modification will my Codification Software require? How long will it take to test my Codification Software? What does AC/135 Panel A need to do for NDER? What does AC/135 Main Group need to do for NDER? Who is the NDER Team? Where can I get further information?
What is NDER?
NDER is a project to deliver a modern data exchange communications functionality to the NATO Codification System (NCS) using Extensible Markup Language (XML), including a modernisation and rationalisation of NCS business rules.
The NATO Codification System in its current form was developed in the 1960’s based on the extant technology of the day; 80-column punch cards. The system utilises a bespoke data structure, communications media and limited Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code (EBCDIC) character set. It does not permit the transfer of non-textual information, punctuation, hyperlinks, images or drawings.
Whilst punch cards are no longer used, the data format and character set have not changed, nor has the system evolved with changing technology and increased data transfer volumes currently available. Modern battlespace communications now allow for and operational logisticians now demand a more enriched data set to ensure the right item is provided to the right place at the right time.
NDER is the NATO Allied Committee 135 (AC/135) project to deliver modern, robust and progressive data communications functionality to the NATO Codification System (NCS) using eXtensible Markup Language (XML), including a growth path for further modernisation and process rationalisation and reform.
Who does NDER impact?
NDER will fundamentally change the way AC/135 communicates codification data. All users of NCS data will need to review the NDER changes for impacts. In each country, the National Codification Bureau (NCB) is the responsible agency to manage this process. Every NCB is impacted, regardless of whether they are from a NATO, Tier Two or Tier One country.
When is NDER delivered?
AC/135 approved the NDER schedule in May 2018. The current NADEX communications process will cease on 24 December, 2021 with a full communications blackout commencing at that time. All countries and NSPA will go live with the NDER communications process and new business rules on 10 January, 2022.
Although 2022 may seem many years away, there is an immense amount of work required to implement NDER, and an aggressive schedule of work to complete. All countries must engage with the NDER project in order for it to be a success.
The NDER high level schedule is shown below:
What will NDER do?
NDER will do a number of things. Firstly NDER retires NADEX and its 80 column format data transfer replacing all NCS codification communications with XML. NDER will replace the use of the Online Maintenance Tool (O MT) by nations and will enable the transfer of technical documentation between codification bureaux via documents encapsulated with the XML message. It will also implement more streamlined business rules and facilitate more tasks automation by codification software. Business rules will be enforced more centrally by NSPA making future modernisation efforts more streamlined as some of the systems and data validation controls will be managed by NSPA in addition to those ones done by each NCB.
The core tenet of NDER is to enable all codification matters to be performed by codifiers in their national systems, such that they can for example:
screen a new codification request against the NMCRL content, generate a request for Codification and Registration of user (LSA), attach the supporting documentation and submit the request to the foreign NCB without leaving their national codification software. The codifier can likewise generate a foreign NSN maintenance or cancellation request within their national software.
NDER will introduce a more modern approach to items References with a wider character set and field length based on recognised civilian standards. NDER will enable more NCS data to be shared internationally; more importantly NDER provides AC/135 a growth path for further modernisation and system improvement. This is not possible under current NATO Data Exchange (NADEX) constraints.
What does each NCB need to do?
Each NCB has two main tasks for NDER: To keep itself and all national stakeholders informed about NDER; and to implement software changes required to introduce the new business rules and XML communication standards for codification data exchange to commence on 10 January 2022.
The NDER Project team have developed a number of documents for NCBs regarding the scope of the proposed new business rules for the NCS. The future business rules and project updates are uploaded to the NCS Transformation section within the NATO Automated Business System (NABS).That is to say, while this page is designed to contain finalized NDER documentation as the project evolves, the information leading up to a published document will remain internal to AC/135.
It is the responsibility of each NCB to ensure all national stakeholders are informed about NDER, including software providers, national Logistics Information Systems administrators, operational logisticians as well as NCB staff.
AC/135 Chairman has briefed the Conference of National Armament Directors (CNAD) on NDER and its impacts to NCS participants, National Directors on Codification are required to ensure their CNAD representative is fully brief on NDER and its national impacts.
Each NCB must ensure that their respective Panel A representative is fully conversant with, and where necessary comments on NDER documentation as it is released by the NDER team. National Directors on Codification are also responsible to ensure appropriate resources are available to implement NDER within the project schedule.
How much will NDER cost?
The National cost to implement NDER will depend on many factors, including whether the NCB operates a bespoke or a Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) Codification System, whether a software maintenance agreement is in place and the commercial terms of such arrangements. It will also depend on how much of the modernisation activities are flowed through to the Nation’s National Logistics Information System. It is at national discretion how much of the new codification data will flow through to each Nation’s National Logistics System.
The amount of automation sought by each NCB when implementing the new business rules will also impact the cost of software modification required; however with more automation comes reduced NCB operating costs once NDER is implemented. Whilst the amount of automation is at national discretion, certain NDER business processes require automation for efficient international data management. The cost to implement NDER for the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) will be briefed to the National Directors on Codification through the AC/135 Agenda and committee process.
How will NDER change National Military Logistics Systems?
It is at national discretion based on the End User’s requirements how much of the new codification data will flow through to each Nation’s National Logistics Information System. Nations have the ability to transform NCS data however they need to suit or take into account the constraints of the requirements National Logistics Information Systems; however from 10 January 2022, all internationally exchanged data must meet the new NDER standards.
What processes are changing?
The NDER team have concentrated the business process redesign on areas that currently involve using systems or data transfer methods other than through each county’s national codification software, such as via OMT, email and forms. These have wherever possible been integrated into NDER and XML data exchange. Such areas include NSN cancelations, and image management in the NATO Master Catalogue of References for Logistics (NMCRL). But also all the costly in man power manual processes, integrating them into the nominal automatic data exchanges.
All business process changes are detailed in the NDER Business Rules document which has been uploaded in the NABS and distributed directly to each countries NDER representative.
Will NDER allow the sharing of photos?
For legal reasons, NDER will not facilitate image sharing between National Codification Bureaux. Likewise NSN exchanged data will not include images. NDER will however, facilitate image management processes between each NCB and the NMCRL.
When implemented NDER will provide each NCB the ability to upload, replace and delete images for their own NSNs in the NMCRL. It will also facilitate the upload, replacement and deletion of images in the NMCRL against items references with that nation’s Action Activity Code (AAC), irrespective of what nation manages the NSN. It will not allow NCBs to manage images against other Nation’s NSNs or against items references with another nation’s Action Activity Code (AAC) against it.
Data Message traffic – What will change?
The number of types of messages will reduce with NDER as XML enables more enriched and wider variety of data to be exchanged between NCBs. NSPA will carry on to act as the central hub for all communications as it does today. However, NSPA will adopt additional roles under NDER including NSN data archiving, statistical analysis on NSN and message data, validation of data format and message content, and enhanced reporting.
As every message must pass through NSPA, message format and content validations will be conducted centrally by NSPA in near-real-time. Messages that do not conform to the XML Schema will error at NSPA, an error message will be generated for the submitting NCB, and the message will be archived for statistical and root cause analysis. Non-compliant messages will never reach the intended recipient.
Validation of messages will occur in near real-time with the results available to the originator within a few minutes. Each NCB is encouraged to check for validation errors within half an hour of message upload to the NMBS. A Detailed brief on the validation process is provided in the NCS Transformation section within the NABS.
Where only part of a message does not meet the business rules, the offending component will be stripped from the message by NSPA and returned with the applicable error codes to the submitter. The remaining compliant message component is forwarded to the intended recipient.
Messages are comprised of a message header and one or more containers. The NSN XML Schema has two parts, Inbound and Outbound. The Inbound part contains requests for action to a processing NCB; the outbound part contains the results of inbound requests, processing error data and notifications.
Each Inbound container relates to a single NSN and may contain one or more requested actions pertaining to that NSN. Each message may only include a single Inbound container for each NSN. Each Message/Container/Action is uniquely identified globally.
Outbound containers also pertain to a single NSN and may contain either: the NSN full data record, a requested status update for a previously sent action, advice of a processing error or a notification. A notification container provides information from the processing NCB regarding a change related to the expected outcome or a non-fatal error for a previously received requested Action. A message can contain one or more Outbound Containers for a single NSN.
For every successful transaction in NDER the responding nation will release a full NSN record to the requestor. As the message passes through NSPA they will overlay the latest full NSN record into NMCRL such that NMCRL should contain the latest information possible consistent with each Nations’ data. Once the NMCRL is updated, NSPA will queue a copy of the NSN full data record for retrieval by user nations. All user nations of the NSN will receive a copy for download next time they connect to the NATO Mail Box System (NMBS) either on web application or through the NMBS client.
Where a nation makes a domestically generated (unsolicited) change to a NSN, they will release a full file NSN data record to NSPA, who will update NMCRL and provide a copy to each using nation for download next time they connect to the NATO Mail Box System (NMBS) either on web application or through the NMBS client. Where multiple changes are made to a NSN in a communications period, each requesting nation will receive a message from the owning NCB. Where this also includes an unsolicited change each requesting nation and NSPA will receive a message with the full NSN data record.
Every nation must connect to NMBS at least once per working day. The frequency of connection will be reported in MIS and analysis will be made to Panel A.
Every NCB pushes messages to NSPA and pulls messages queued for them from NSPA. As NMBS services (either on web application or through NMBS Client) provide a confirmation of successful data transfer for each successful message, message acknowledgement receipts will not be generated for NCBs.
What is included in a NSN Full Data Record?
NSN full data Records include all information retained by the NCS about the concerned NSN and is largely based on the item origin nation’s (the nation that owns the NSN) National Codification Software. The data retained will differ as not all countries utilise all possible NCS data in their National Codification Software.
How much modification will my Codification Software require?
The amount of automation sought by each NCB when implementing the new business rules will determine the amount of software modification required. The more automation incorporated within the codification software the less human interference and interaction is required to perform NCB responsibilities, resulting in reduced NCB operating costs. Whilst the amount of automation is at national discretion, certain NDER business processes require automation for efficient international data management.
The intent of NDER is to concatenate all codification activities within a single software solution - each nations own codification software. NDER will remove the need for a NCB to use the OMT, as such all maintenance processes must be incorporated within each country’s codification software. Each NCB will also need to implement the new UTF-8 derived character set and adapt reference number field length within their codification software. It may also be necessary for each NCB to translate the new codification data set NDER provides so it can be consumed in their national Logistics Information System. This is at national discretion.
Each NCB is also highly encouraged to implement wherever possible direct NMBS web services to permit the seamless flow of data between each NCB and NSPA. The NMBS Client as well as the web application will remain post NDER implementation for any country that cannot or does not wish to implement direct NMBS web services. The usage of NMBS Client, web application or web service is at national discretion.
How long will it take to test my Codification Software?
The codification software test strategy, processes and user cases will be developed by the NDER team in 2019. NDER will utilise the future NSPA Automatic Testing Tool (ATT) to validate business rules and schema compliance for NDER. As NDER is a fundamental change to the way the NCS does business and communicates its data, testing will be a lengthy and intensive process, with every NCB’s software requiring individual testing across the full range of business processes. Testing must be completed by 31 July 2021.
The proposed sequence of development testing is shown below:
The development of the ATT is expected to progress throughout 2019 as shown below:
What does AC/135 Panel A need to do for NDER?
Each national Panel A representative must ensure that they are fully conversant with the scope of the proposed new business rules for the NCS and to ensure all national stakeholders are informed about the technical aspects of NDER.
Panel A endorsed the Business rules document and XML schema in October 2018, Main Group approved these in November 2018. Version 1.8 of the NDER Business Rules document is included in the January 2019 release of the Allied Codification Publication -1 NATO Manual of Codification. The NDER team have progressed further updated to the business rules which will be circulated to Panel A representatives for review under abbreviated Panel A processes as agreed to by Main Group in November 2018.
What does AC/135 Main Group need to do for NDER?
It is the responsibility of the Director of each NCB to ensure all national stakeholders are informed about NDER, including software providers, national Logistics Information Systems administrators, operational logisticians as well as NCB staff.
AC/135 Chairman has briefed the Council of National Armament Directors (CNAD) on NDER and its impacts to NCS participants, National Directors on Codification are required to ensure their CNAD representative is appropriately briefed on NDER and its national impacts.
National Directors on Codification are responsible to ensure appropriate resources are available to implement NDER within the project schedule.
The NDER team will provide updates to Main Group each meeting on project performance and risks for the consideration of directors.
Who is the NDER Team?
The NDER Team is a handpicked team of TSWG members volunteered to devise and develop the NDER Business rules, XML Schema, Test Strategy, Test Cases, Test Procedures and other supporting documentation for NDER. The team is made up of three NSPA Staff, five staff from the USA, two staff from Spain and one each from Australia, Finland and France. This small part-time team develop NDER Project artefacts whilst also performing national tasks for their own NCBs. The team has collectively contributed thousands of hours of effort towards making NDER a success.
Where can I get further information?
Each NCB has a NDER Point of Contact as detailed in the CodSP4F table. The NDER Point of Contact in each NCB is your first port of call for information on NDER. If they cannot assist, then a member of the NDER team can be contacted via the contact details in the CodSP-4F table for their respective countries (see the question above for a list of NDER team countries).
Need more information?
We hope these questions have provided the information you need about the NATO Codification System's NATO Data Exchange Redesign Project.
If you have any other questions or believe that it would be useful to add other questions to this site, contact the Secretary AC/135 at:
For more extensive information about the NDER contact your CodSP4 National NDER Representative.
You will also find a range of NDER artefacts within the NCS Transformation page within the NATO Automated Business System (NABS).