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Consolidated, Dynamic and Combat-Ready
By Sharon Anderson - July-September 2009
Consolidating Navy ashore networks into an affordable, manageable, secure environment has been an ongoing effort since the notable development of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet in 2000. And while much attention has been given to the follow-on contract to the NMCI, the Next Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN, an enormous effort is also underway to deliver the same economies of scale and enhanced security to fleet users through the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services program.

CANES represents a significant change in the way the Navy procures command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities. By using proven technology and industry standards, CANES will provide a common computing environment, including network hardware and software infrastructure, beginning in 2011.

CANES will deliver C4ISR capability as applications instead of complete systems, harvesting significant savings for the Navy while accelerating delivery of warfighting capability to the fleet.

The Program Executive Office for C4I Tactical Networks Program Office released the Request for Proposals (RFP) for CANES Increment I April 2. Responses were due June 3. The scope of the CANES Increment I RFP includes the design, development, integration and production of a common computing environment tactical network for the Navy. Implementation of CANES Increment I is expected to be completed by 2016.

The Naval Network Environment

CANES is part of a larger effort by the Department of the Navy to establish the Naval Networking Environment 2016.

CANES is the afloat piece of the four components of this significant undertaking. The others are NGEN; Base Level Information Infrastructure, or ONE-NET, the overseas network; and one the Navy terms as excepted networks, such as health care and training and education networks that will not be included in the NGEN enclave.

"We want to speed effort to catch the current wave of technology. That includes service oriented architectures, enterprise solutions, innovative security approaches and state-of-the-shelf hardware," said Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for communications networks and Deputy Chief Information Officer (Navy), earlier this year.

According to Harris, CANES will provide 75,000 seats on 192 ships and submarines and at nine maritime operation centers across the fleet.

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

Increment I Acquisition Strategy

CANES is an ACAT I program of record. The program's acquisition strategy is to initially select two contractors from the RFP in the first quarter of fiscal year 2010 and then down select to one contractor. The total cost of the contract for Increment I is expected to be just under $1 billion. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, headquartered in San Diego, is the contracting authority for CANES contracts.

"We are planning a dual award, and it is going to be a bake-off between the best competing designs," said Robert Wolborsky, Tactical Networks program manager for CANES. "When we down select to a single vendor, we will have two limited, low-rate initial production options where the bulk of the dollars associated with the contract are. The flyoff is 14 months from when we award the contract."

Wolborsky and Cmdr. John Sprague, CANES assistant program manager, talked about the development of CANES in early June from their office in San Diego. They said the need for CANES was urgent.

"CANES was envisioned in the POM-08 (Program Objective Memorandum). Currently, each shipboard C4I system operates on a separate network infrastructure — different equipment, different software — and requires dedicated personnel to operate them. CANES will replace those various, stovepiped afloat networks with a single, common network system," Sprague said.

Early testing of the CANES concept demonstrated the potential for significant savings for the Navy. The formal analysis of alternatives assessed major ISR and C2 systems that were migrating into the CANES network Infrastructure. These major systems included Global Combat Support System-Maritime, Distributed Common Ground System-Navy and Navy Tactical Command Support System, including several other key applications.

"The original estimate was more than $2.3 billion in potential cost avoidance and savings for the Navy by migrating a limited set of major applications intothis enterprise network architecture of core services, application hosting and virtualization," Wolborsky said.

But the requirement went beyond saving money. The development of CANES is also in response to fleet demand for a robust tactical network. CANES is comprised of two main subprograms: the common computing environment, which consolidates all the hardware, racks, servers and communications media for shipboard applications, and the afloat core services, which is a consolidation of applications in use today.

"CANES is the culmination of the lessons learned in developing, producing, fielding and supporting all the backbone networks on ships and subs. In developing the requirement for CANES, we had intense interaction with the fleet to inform users and gather requirements. What the fleet wants is a network transformation from an administrative tool to a secure operational and tactical center of gravity. The fleet needs a flexible, agile, reliable and secure network," Wolborsky said.

CANES has an approved Requirements Document and is the first program of record to go through a Gate 3 Review inside what is known as the Navy's 2 Pass/6-Gate Review process.

"CANES has also successfully accomplished a Gate 4 and 5 review. We are the first program in DoD to successfully accomplish a Materiel Development Decision," Wolborsky said. "We have a signed Acquisition Decision Memorandum by AT&L (Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) giving us permission to proceed, to award our contract and lead us to a Milestone B Decision."

The Office of Naval Research is currently conducting an independent technology readiness assessment on CANES. The three critical technology elements evaluated were Common Computing Environment, Cross Domain Solutions and Afloat Core Services. The program office evaluates all three at a high technology readiness level that translates into low risk to the program.

CANES Will Consolidate:
• Integrated Shipboard Network Systems (ISNS)
• Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS)
• Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) Local Area Network
• Submarine Local Area Network (SUBLAN)
• Video Information Exchange System (VIXS)

The Ubiquitous Tactical Network

Afloat networks have evolved from administrative tools to a vital piece of the shipboard infrastructure that supports key warfighting, operational and quality of life requirements.

Warfighters have a critical need to share information from highly classified networks down to unsecured coalition networks. In the past, bridge solutions were developed within each organization for their specific applications. The overhead was tremendous with independent sustainment tails, countless interconnections, inconsistent security and risk-mitigation practices, and confusing sharing policies.

"How many security domains can be consolidated? How much information sharing can we potentially facilitate between the domains? How much infrastructure can we reduce by doing so?" Wolborsky said. "Those are the questions and benefits that are yet to be defined. We are waiting for the proposals to come in to see how well we meet those targets and goals from a technology perspective."

According to Sprague, CANES is expected to reduce the footprint of physical infrastructure on ships through virtualization. By running multiple, independent virtual operating systems on a single physical computer, increased computing power can be achieved and hardware investments and physical resources can be maximized.

"By having a consolidated, virtualized set of racks, we can load all of the applications and maintain them instead of each application bringing its computing power and only utilizing 20 percent of it," Sprague said.

Decoupling systems and applications from hardware allows applications to be lightweight and agile. Simplifying sustainment and maintenance is key because different classes of ships have different systems and configuration baselines depending on their missions and age.

"Moving to an enterprise network architecture and decoupling the applications from their organic hardware, and even from some of their services, will allow us to coordinate future changes faster," Sprague said.

CANES will enforce configuration management through its enterprise architecture and free program managers from worrying about compatibility issues, hardware, databases and directories. It will provide disciplined configuration management based on the Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion model used by the submarine community. Hardware will be updated every four years and software (operating systems and systems management) will be updated every two years.

"The result," said Sprague, "will be that program managers will no longer be concerned with providing hardware and software. By following the CANES roadmap, program managers will know when and what kind of hardware will be provided and can instruct their application developers to tailor applications to ride on that."

The CANES program team is also paying close attention to bandwidth consumption issues, especially with small fleet units that have traditionally been bandwidth disadvantaged. Wolborsky is working to ensure that the Automated Digital Networking System Increment III is aligned with the CANES program to make certain that the programs are cognitive of the bandwidth demand for the implementation of afloat core services and what these applications will need in the future.

"The challenge isn't going away, but over time we can significantly increase the amount of throughput with gapfiller satellites, expanded use of the Commercial Broadband Satellite Program and other initiatives that PEO C4I is taking on," Wolborsky said.

The Way Ahead

The CANES team has already begun coordination with the Navy's aviation and ship communities to ensure wider alignment with combat systems.

"We recently sent our team to Naval Air Systems Command so they could start conceptualizing how CANES could go on planes in the future. A number of aircraft applications could potentially be targeted, and we're working to determine how our core services can get out to the tactical edge more effectively."

Although PEO C4I is not typically involved in hull, mechanical and electrical networks, consolidation of these networks may be a requirement down the road.

"We do not field or support those networks today, but we are having detailed discussions with the folks that are responsible for doing that, the Ship Systems Engineering Station folks in Philadelphia, the Naval Sea Systems Command and the new construction folks. Even though there are complexities, they use the same technology from a networking perspective that we do," Wolborsky said.

The Navy's ultimate goal is to have one enterprise shipboard network, and the CANES team has been looking at work that has been done in the past to meet this objective, according to Wolborsky.

"We need to take a long, hard look at previous efforts and the lessons learned. We have a desired end-state in mind, but we need to do it."

Sharon Anderson is the CHIPS senior editor, contact her at For more information about CANES, contact the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command public affairs office at (619) 524-3432.

Navy Prepares for Limited Delivery of Shipboard Wireless Networks

The Navy's PEO C4I announced in June that it will begin limited procurement and fielding of unclassified wireless networks on board Navy surface ships starting this summer. Once accomplished, shipboard wireless networks will allow Sailors greater mobility and enhance their ability to multitask and conduct shipboard business more efficiently.

While wireless networks are common in the commercial arena, until now, bringing the capability to the Navy has proven problematic based on the cost, the processes involved to meet the Navy's stringent security requirements, and the time it takes to develop, demonstrate and test a product within the minimum two-year acquisition cycle to rapidly deploy a capability.

The implementation of unclassified wireless networks capitalizes on commercial efforts and incorporates commercial best practices. The new capability will be delivered as part of ongoing installations to avoid the cost of installing network cables to the desktop.

Introducing wireless networks at sea will allow Sailors greater flexibility, enhanced mobility, and provide a foundation to allow new and innovative capabilities to be brought to the shipboard environment.

The shipboard network environment aboard Navy surface ships will use Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 802.11 technology to provide Navy personnel with an unclassified wireless network interface. The wireless infrastructure will provide an extension of the unclassified Integrated Shipboard Network System.

Multiple Sailors will be able to share the capacity provided by a single wired network connection by using an unclassified wireless access point, into which the wired ISNS connection terminates. This eliminates the cost associated with providing wired network access to each Sailor.

Though the network will be unclassified, information assurance will remain a top priority. The system was designed to meet or exceed all DoD security standards for unclassified wireless technology, including defense- in-depth best practices and a Federal Information Process Standards 140-2 Level 2 accredited encryption module.

An authentication protocol will ensure the network is only accessible to valid wireless client devices and dual security layers will ensure that no unclassified wireless data can be captured and deciphered. In addition, a Wireless Intrusion Detection System will be included in the system design to identify invalid wireless activity and alert network administrators to the nature and location of the activity.

In a related effort, PEO C4I's Tactical Networks Program Office successfully leveraged the wireless network technology and effort to develop the Wireless Reachback System. The system provides a secure wireless link for the transmission of data supporting multiple mission sets. The system is currently employed by Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure teams to transmit biometric and intelligence data between vessels of interest and the on-scene commander during Expanded Maritime Intercept Operations, and to provide nongovernment officials Internet connectivity during disaster and humanitarian relief efforts.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (March 10, 2009) Fran White, left, a civil service employee at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, and Clayton Bush, a Tactical Networks Program Office (PMW 160) contractor, work with Information Systems Technician 2nd Class James Rago to troubleshoot the video teleconference system of a video information exchange system aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). PMW 160 and SPAWAR provide the Navy with network fabric and services used by multiple shipboard tactical and business applications and systems and routinely install, maintain and train crew members in operational and maintenance procedures. U.S. Navy photo by Rick Naystatt.
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