The Navy's Tactical Networks Program Office (PMW 160) completed two test pilots for the Consolidated Afloat Network and Enterprise Services (CANES) program and presented a demonstration to leadership, October 2016.
The test pilots explored the use of a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) and the preloading of applications on CANES ship sets in a production facility before the system is delivered and installed on a ship.
The goal of the HCI test pilot, known as CHIIP (CANES HCI Innovation Pilot), was to increase efficiency of CANES. HCI is gaining traction in the information technology marketplace because it consolidates compute, storage, and networking into a single software defined node rather than three individual nodes, also known as silos.
"HCI will make it easier for Sailors to maintain CANES because it removes the three-silo infrastructure we have today," said PMW 160 Technical Director Delores Washburn.
Washburn further explained the three silos are the compute, storage, and networking silos typical of the current CANES configuration. This configuration requires three separate skill sets to maintain the equipment, whereas HCI integrates compute, storage, and network in a single scalable node maintained from a centralized management console, which reduces complexity for the Sailor.
"We wanted to expand on the leading-edge HCI work being done in PMW 790 (Shore and Expeditionary Integration Program Office)," said Washburn. "They have been working with it in their Distributed Joint Command and Control program and in the virtual secure enclave. As both of those are shore-based, we wanted to look at HCI to see if it was applicable to the afloat environment and CANES."
The CHIIP team created a prototype network by combining the CANES software stack with HCI elements. The network was then loaded with key applications and tested rigorously to determine if it was suitable for the shipboard environment. CHIIP successfully demonstrated the potential of HCI to reduce CANES' complexity, footprint, and size, weight and power (SWaP) requirements. The CHIIP pilot also indicated a potential 20-40 percent reduction in SWaP requirements, which should allow CANES to keep pace with the ever-growing demand for operational capacity without increasing the ship SWaP requirement or the network footprint.
"What HCI allows us to do is grow compute and storage capacity within existing racks," said Washburn. "CHIIP is a great example of technology insertion and CANES will incorporate HCI during its next hardware version."
The second pilot successfully tested was the Application Production Pre-Loading Experiment, Process Improvement Effort (APPLE PIE). APPLE PIE tested the concept of preloading software onto CANES before delivery to a ship.
"We had to overcome many barriers to be able to preload the applications ashore; these included having ship specific IP addresses, [certificates], and software licenses available in the production facility," said Washburn. "We also had to ensure that all CANES services were ready for application loading. In the end, we overcame the barriers and proved preloading could be done. We are now institutionalizing preloading as part of the way we do [installations]."
Preplanning for both pilots started in early 2016, and the program office started and completed both pilots within a few months, providing proof of concept in order to accelerate the CANES installation timeline.
"We are incorporating the results of CHIIP into the CANES design, and simultaneously taking the successes from APPLE PIE and incorporating them into the CANES production processes," said PMW 160 Program Manager Jim Churchill. "The afloat environment provides unique challenges for the network itself, as well as the methods for configuring and maintaining it, and these must be addressed as we introduce new technologies and processes. The teams that performed these pilots executed them exceptionally well, in many cases working the pilots in addition to their normal duties. I want to thank them all for their dedication and diligence."
CANES replaces and modernizes afloat networks with updated hardware, software, and service infrastructure to enable increased information warfare capability for ships, submarines and maritime operations centers. CANES is used for unclassified, coalition, secret, and sensitive compartment information (SCI) for all basic network services — email, web, chat, and collaboration — and application hosting. CANES is expected to be fully deployed by fiscal year 2023.
The Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence is the Navy’s premier organization for the development, acquisition and sustainment of C4I capability.