With all of the excitement surrounding the release of the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) Request for Proposal (RFP), the operation of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) continues to mature with the implementation of new solutions and security measures designed to help Sailors and Marines perform their mission critical tasks more effectively and efficiently.
The Naval Enterprise Networks (NEN) program office, which manages the NMCI and NGEN programs, is deploying a number of new Navy initiatives including tablet laptops for Navy recruiters, a Hosted Virtual Desktop (HVD) capability, expanded support for smartcards used to authenticate the identity of NMCI users, an enterprise-wide operating system upgrade and improved end user hardware delivery times.
All of these items pace with today's technology and support the Department of the Navy's (DON) efforts to develop mobile solutions to provide access to the right data at the right time and in the right place.
"The importance of the current network to the DON is not lost on the program office," said Capt. Shawn P. Hendricks, NEN program manager. "We are focused on continuously improving NMCI to make it more agile, flexible and useful to our users. NMCI is critical to the day-to-day operations of supporting our Sailors and Marines."
Mobile Recruiter Initiative
In early 2011, the Navy Recruiting Command (NRC) approached the NEN program office with a request for a highly capable tablet-style laptop with a sufficient "wow factor" to be on par, if not exceed, the devices used by the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps recruiters in the common quest to recruit today's tech-savvy youth. Attempting to impress potential candidates with years-old laptop technology proved to be ineffective — Navy recruiters needed state-of-the-art technology to help them convey the image that today's Navy knows how to effectively utilize modern information technology.
The new Navy recruiter laptops also had to be highly capable in hardware computing power with built-in Wi-Fi and 3G (third generation mobile telecommunications) broadband radios, a tablet form factor to support taking candidate applications in the field, strong security with full-disk encryption that is Department of Defense (DoD) Common Access Card (CAC) enabled, electronically configurable and maintainable via the Internet. The mobile recruiter laptop had to fully support the needs of the Navy recruiter corps.
Working with the NRC, the NEN program office agreed to equip recruiters with a convertible laptop, one in which the screen can swivel 180 degrees into position to function as a tablet device with touch screen capabilities while retaining the full computing power and functionality of a traditional laptop. Apple's iPad and other dedicated tablet devices were considered, but ultimately the recruiters decided that tablets do not deliver the computing power and security capabilities that they need.
For security and maintainability, the Mobile Recruiter solution includes the capability to remotely manage and update recruiter laptops in the field, wherever they are being used. Through an agent-based (i.e., software installed on the laptop), mobile network access control (NAC) capability, security policy updates, software configuration changes and even new applications are electronically "pushed" to laptops over the Internet, while transparent to users.
The Mobile Recruiter initiative has essentially expanded the reach of the NMCI enterprise to the Internet-based mobile platform.
Three potential devices were identified and field tested by the NRC. In the end, the NRC chose the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Elitebook 2740p Tablet PC because it met the wow factor criteria, as well as ease of use, ample computing power, long battery life and price point. The NRC's initial order was for more than 4,800 Elitebook laptops.
Since the task order was awarded in