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CHIPS Articles: 10-1-10 — The Evolution Begins

10-1-10 — The Evolution Begins
A new era in command and control expeditionary networking
By Capt. Timothy Holland - January-March 2009
If you work in or with the Department of the Navy (DON), two years or so from now, you will be using a new intranet to conduct business. The current Navy Marine Corps Intranet contract ends Sept. 30, 2010. On Oct. 1, 2010, the DON will be transitioning to the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN).

Currently, every NMCI user is provided a complete suite of applications and services at each "seat" — consisting of connectivity to local area networks, wide area networks, guaranteed network performance, security, network support, all help desk support, training, cryptographic logon, identity management and attribute-based access. The combination of this set of services has tremendous value.

The current design provides secure, universal access to integrated voice, video and data communications, and a common computing environment across the DON, which has played a critical role in dramatically improving security across the enterprise while greatly improving business efficiency and the exchange of information.

Innovation, Security and Global Connectivity

With NGEN, the DON's vision is to transition to a network that will have a secure, reliable capability that capitalizes on its significant investment and improves focus on the warfighter. This will be accomplished by first enabling command and control (C2) of naval network resources, and second, by improving Navy enterprise business and administrative functions.

NGEN, over time, will provide a state-of-the-art, global networking environment that is responsive to the operational commander, that unleashes the collaborative nature of the Millennium Generation and empowers our future warriors. It will build on the lessons learned in developing the world's largest intranet, the NMCI, and allow visibility into the network's control and cost to help the DON migrate from costly, vulnerable legacy networks.

NGEN represents the evolution of naval IT networks. It is a central pillar in the DON's goal of a single-enterprise network within the overall Naval Networking Environment. The NNE 2016 is the DON's vision for a highly secure and reliable enterprise providing ubiquitous access to data, services and applications from anywhere across all program and operational boundaries. The NNE is an iterative set of integrated, phased programs that will guide the DON toward a future net-centric enterprise environment.

The NNE will be bound by an enterprise architecture, common standards and a common governance and operational construct that is consistent with the joint goals for Defense Department-wide access to information technology services around the world.

It will allow U.S. Naval forces to partner, communicate and share information with a diverse array of multinational, federal, state, local and private sector organizations given a particular operational requirement tailored to a specific mission.

Over the next two years, and at the initial delivery of NGEN, you won't notice much change. There will not be a flip of a switch Sept. 30, 2010, when the NMCI contract ends. Users will still have access to current systems and tools, but NGEN will be well on the way to realizing needed improvements.

Why change?

Since 9/11, the requirements of the commands currently supported by NMCI have changed as the department engaged in the global war on terror. Shore-based and forward operational commanders in the fleet view all of the DON's enterprise networks as extensions of their ability to wage war and have stated that coalition and multinational command, control, communications and computers (C4) interoperability remains the top fleet priority.

There are compelling reasons to move to NGEN, NNE 2016 —and beyond — as outlined below.

To make DON networks better

Today, DON networks are no longer just a business support system. They must be built in ways that allow them to be in¬teroperable across commands. Continuous improvement means constant evaluation of process and progress and making neces¬sary changes to succeed. In other words, NGEN is part of the NNE strategy that will bring about the integration of multiple simul¬taneously moving pieces across the Navy and Marine Corps.

The keys to the success of NNE 2016 are:
• A common enterprise architecture;
• Adoption of and adherence to enterprise standards, including the use of enterprise purchase agreements for our most common hardware and software components used across the department;
• A common governance structure and operational construct;
• Access for Sailors, Marines and civilians who should not be administratively bound to any one computer seat. With their Common Access Card and proper authorizations, they should be able to sit down at any personal computer or computing device and log in to receive “their” information with access to their data;
• Shared services; and
• Common IT service delivery across the operational spectrum.

To support the warfighter

The job of naval networks is to deliver mission-critical information to DON personnel when and where they need it. Warfighters will have the ability within the NGEN footprint to execute assigned missions and exercise command and control. At the same time, NGEN will defend the cyber domain by defeating ever increasing cyber threats with a military capability designed to fight, win and prevent cyber-attacks.

NGEN will provide service for a number of warfighting and Navy corporate activities. It must support an embarkable category of users, such as Sailors and Marines, whose in garrison command location is ashore.

Embarkable users need to be able to transition seamlessly to Navy’s afloat IT environment without loss of identity or functionality. Marine Corps expeditionary users similarly need to transition seamlessly from garrison to the fight forward within a consistent IT environment.

The DON has expeditionary NGEN users who need to be supported over low-bandwidth connections, and the DON has numerous users with challenging mobile requirements. Think of Navy recruiters who travel hundreds of miles to high schools and storefront locations, they need their information to be available and accessible while traveling.

While not in the first increment, the DON will want NGEN to help achieve a better balance between security and the need for a few Navy users to have broader Internet access to take full advantage of emerging technologies, in addition to social and business Web technologies. A layered defensive strategy will be an important characteristic of NGEN service.

Our service men and women need to know that the DON supports them and that its Naval Networking Environment allows them to do their job effectively without interruption.

To ensure optimum security

Modern day conflicts are increasingly moving from the traditional battlefield to cyberspace. Due to ever-increasing cyber threats and the military’s increasing dependency on IT infrastructure, continuous security improvements are required to protect against this insidious threat. A security failure could result in a loss of credibility, capital — or worse — lives.

Security refers to assured information sharing; network defense; confidentiality; a high rate of available enterprise access; assured mission management; integrity; and non-repudiation of data and users. The DON is dedicated to protecting, defending and safeguarding information and information systems (including networks and applications) by ensuring their availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality and access control through technical, managerial and operational means.

Governance to operate and adaptability

To meet the command and control needs of DON personnel, the department must have operational and design control over naval networks. Governance refers to the assignment of decision rights and accountability framework (standards, policies and enforcement mechanisms) to encourage desirable behavior in the use of IT. Adaptability refers to the ability of our network to field new, modified or additional services in a timely manner at an agreed service level.

Department of the Navy IT contingencies must allow unprecedented agility and flexibility. NGEN governance is focused on creating a process for decision making in which all stakeholders, including leadership, internal customers and related areas, such as acquisition, have appropriate channels to provide necessary input. This mitigates problems and improves system performance, adaptability and cost effectiveness for the DON.

NGEN will use an IT Service Management (ITSM) framework based on industry best practices. Use of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) version 3 will allow the DON to apply an open standard that is consistent across the entire operational spectrum. It will allow the department to bring maximum competition to bear on specific functional segments of NGEN without detracting from end-to-end interoperability.

ITIL’s systematic approach will bring a tested, rigorous, efficient service delivery model to DON network operations that is consistent with recognized international standards. It is a model that many of the DON’s industry partners use.

ITSM is a discipline for managing IT systems centered on meeting an organization’s requirements on the part of internal or external customers. The output is a strategy for the design, implementation, maintenance and continual improvement of the service as an organizational capability and a strategic asset.

ITIL is a set of concepts and techniques for managing IT infrastructure, development and operations. Processes are designed to be compatible with the requirements for performing IT service strategy, design, transition and operations functions that will result in the optimum service management infrastructure.

Since there is no existing DON standard for ITSM implementation, NGEN is leading the effort in implementing ITSM partnering with the Naval NETWAR FORCEnet Enterprise (NNFE) to develop and maintain an enterprise IT maturity model.

Embracing ITSM from the start of NGEN development will better position the Navy to manage life-cycle processes. We expect to have a consistent organization that captures requirements, delivers, monitors, optimizes and enhances IT service with a mature, coherent and transparent process.

To ensure the utmost reliability

Department networks are mission critical. Preventing and rapidly responding to failures or breaches and building redundancies are essential. Reliability means that protected data is consistently available when needed. Reliability refers to the ability of the network to maintain operations at agreed service levels during normal operations, peak demands and disaster situations.

Out of the box, NGEN must be at least as good as NMCI and must be capable of growing to meet warfighter needs. It must be capable of providing assured information exchange for Navy’s critical command and control nodes and key supporting command operations centers.

What is the risk of not moving to NGEN or NNE?

As the NGEN program manager, I must stress that NGEN signifies much more than how we buy information transport services; it is really about how the DON executes network operations across Navy and Marine Corps operational and business core mission areas.

As we move further into the millennium, network users will become more dependent on access to information. To ensure the DON stays ahead and prevents information dependence from becoming a liability, the department must practice continual service improvement.

NGEN is the first milestone in the evolution of Naval IT networks; it promises to deliver operational command and control, robust security and exciting technology innovations.

Capt. Timothy Holland is a 1982 graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a master’s of science degree from the Naval Postgraduate School. He reported to the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems as the NGEN program manager in June 2007.

Capt. Timothy Holland, NGEN Program Manager
Capt. Timothy Holland, NGEN Program Manager

Cpl. Michael K. Kono is on his second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A computer network administrator, Kono is in charge of constantly updating the security of the networks and making sure the base’s air boss is always able to contact other bases to coordinate 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s mission throughout Iraq. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Juan Vara, 2nd MAW July 2005.
Cpl. Michael K. Kono is on his second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A computer network administrator, Kono is in charge of constantly updating the security of the networks and making sure the base’s air boss is always able to contact other bases to coordinate 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s mission throughout Iraq. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Juan Vara, 2nd MAW July 2005.
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