Lockheed revamps DMS architecture

Lockheed Martin Corp. has revamped its Defense Message System architecture from a "messaging-centric" architecture to a "groupware-centric" system that will better meet the needs of Defense Department users with "significant cost savings " according to company officials.

Paul LeVesque a Lockheed Martin staff engineer said the company developed the new system design - presented to the Defense Information Systems Agency last week - because users "need more flexibility." Earlier this month Lt. Gen. Al Edmonds former DISA director said the agency has backed off from its "grand design" plans for DMS. Edmonds added that the agency needed to drive the DMS system design to more closely "converge" with commercial products some of which did not even exist when the Pentagon developed the DMS design 10 years ago.

Glenn Kurowski Lockheed Martin's chief DMS engineer said the new DMS architecture should result in "considerable" cost savings for DISA and DOD.

The original DMS design was "fairly rigid" in that it specified "the design down to servers on the base " Kurowski said. "Now we're going to put out a framework that will allow local sites to take advantage of Microsoft [Corp.] and Lotus [Development Corp.] commercial products. This will make DMS more contemporary and look more like a system used by Fortune 5OO companies."

Lockheed Martin has developed a local architecture that will allow users to exchange information between clients using "native" groupware code. Currently Lotus Notes/Domino and Microsoft Exchange serve as Lockheed Martin's groupware though Novell Inc. has made a strong push for addition to the DMS product list. Kurowski said he applauded Novell's initiative. "Competition is good and competition [on DMS] that results from more options for users will be good."

Gerald Douglas director of advanced programs for the Lockheed Martin DMS team added that because "there are a lot of Novell users in DOD adding Novell to DMS would be quite cost effective for them." This focus on groupware will help update the original DMS design which locked users into using the X.400 protocol to send primarily text messages Kurowski said.

The evolutionary DMS system will allow users to decide whether they want to use the X.400 protocol native code or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol when communicating across the network LeVesque added. Lockheed Martin will incorporate these changes into DMS during the next year with most of the changes incorporated by September 1998. DMS clients now will run strictly commercial software with only the servers running the DMS-specific versions he added.

The company also has revised its approach toward the top-down X.500 DMS global directory infrastructure which has been sharply criticized by users. Instead Lockheed Martin is pushing the development of directories on the local level first. This also dovetails with the capabilities of the groupware LeVesque said. "The groupware has built-in directories " he said. If users do need to tap into a regional or global X.500 directory they will now use the "light" version X.500 directory queries which is now a commercial standard.

Lockheed also believes the architecture can meet planned changes in messaging security under consideration by the National Security Agency and DISA according to Douglas. The current DMS architecture calls for encrypting all messages with a Fortezza card but NSA and DISA are studying other types of security including software-only and smart card tokens. The new architecture will easily allow incorporation of changes Douglas said. "We're ready to change with the policy."

On the hardware front Lockheed also plans to add "super servers" to DMS LeVesque said. Those servers will be "multiprocessor Intel [Corp.] Pentiums that can handle up to 1 000 users." The existing single processor DMS servers can handle only up to 256 users.

Fielding of DMS could be speeded up if DISA relaxed what Kurowski called "onerous" testing standards. The testing process is so demanding and lengthy Kurowski said that "it prevents us from keeping up with the pace of innovation.... We have strongly recommended a change." Edmonds in an interview shortly before leaving office tended to agree saying that "for the first time in my career" a testing agency suggested he had set the bar too high.

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