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CHIPS Articles: Message from the DON CIO, April-June 2008

Message from the DON CIO, April-June 2008
By Robert Carey - April-June 2008
The theme of this CHIPS issue, maritime strategy, is about applying maritime power to the crucial responsibility of protecting U.S. vital interests in a world that is increasingly interconnected and yet, increasingly uncertain.

Our maritime forces provide security with the ability to deploy quickly and reach difficult locations. With 70 percent of our world made up of water, over 50 percent of the world's population living on or near coastlines, and 90 percent of our commerce sailing across water, our maritime forces also provide the stability that will prevent any disruption to the American quality of life.

Information technology enables our maritime forces to accomplish their mission and we must provide that which is necessary to allow secure information sharing. In the past we've had several efficient, but disparate networks including the Navy Marine Corps Intranet for shore-based users, ONE-NET – the Navy's network for outside of the continental United States, MCEN – the Marine Corps Enterprise Network and ISNS – our shipboard network infrastructure.

NMCI was revolutionary in size and scope, and it raised the bar for the Department's network security. However, as the NMCI contract comes to an end, we must continually look forward and focus on the vision for the Department's future network environment. This future environment includes our transition from NMCI to the near-term Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) in 2010, and then to the long-term Naval Networking Environment (NNE).

The Next Generation Enterprise Network will be the first step in the transition from NMCI and today's networking environment to NNE, which will provide a robust information infrastructure with the capabilities required by the entire Department. NGEN will supply a secure IT infrastructure for naval networking in the continental United States and select overseas locations. The focus of NGEN is to improve reliability, adaptability, security, governance and support to our maritime forces. It will ensure that users have timely access to the information and services they require to accomplish their missions. It will be the naval component of the Global Information Grid, and it will serve as the foundation for the DON's future NNE.

The Naval Networking Environment is envisioned to be a fully integrated enterprise-wide networking environment where data and services are ubiquitously available to DON users. It will ensure that all naval networks, including Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES), the future afloat networking infrastructure, are fully interoperable.

As we prepare for the future, we are taking the steps necessary now for a seamless transition. We are identifying and developing NGEN requirements and planning for acquisition, contracting and transition. We are also continuing our efforts to reduce legacy applications, databases and networks to simplify our current environment and enable our future vision where all networks will be interoperable — afloat and ashore.

In planning for NGEN and NNE, we are also looking at emergent technologies, new ways of fulfilling our mission and addressing the balance between securing our information and making sure that our users have access to data and information when and where they need it.

The NGEN/NNE effort is not only a joint Navy and Marine Corps effort, but leadership from the highest levels of the Department, including the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, are fully engaged in guiding the NGEN initiative.

There were some challenges during the transition to NMCI, as there is with any change initiative, but it is important to remember that it was the first network of its size to be implemented by an organization. The NMCI challenges are lessons we have learned, and we are ensuring they are addressed as we move forward with NGEN.

We are doing everything we can to make sure the transition to NGEN is as efficient as possible. However, during this transition, we will not lose sight of the current environment. We will continue to work to ensure that the Department's users have reliable access to the information and applications they need to accomplish their missions throughout the transition process. The Department will continue investing in information assurance and network security improvements for NMCI, as these improvements are vital to keeping pace with the dynamic and emerging environment of cyber threats, as well as preparing for the transition to NGEN.

In transitioning our naval network environment, we will be playing our part in ensuring that IT-enabled sea power can be applied around the world to protect our way of life.

Robert J. Carey
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