Navy stays with PCs, Microsoft standards

HONOLULU - The Navy plans to stay with the interim commercial standards issued in March for its massive project to link ship and shore computer systems despite heavy industry pressure for changes.

The Navy still plans to build its Information Technology for the 21st Century project around Intel Corp.-based servers and PCs and Microsoft Corp. software. IT-21 will tie together incompatible administrative and tactical systems on shore and at sea in an effort to improve communications Navy-wide.

"I'm still sticking with the standards [contained in a Navy-wide March 30 message] " said Adm. Archie Clemins commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet (CINCPACFLT) and a primary architect of IT-21. "Why would we [want] to put in several systems?" Clemins in an interview last month with FCW at his Pearl Harbor headquarters acknowledged that industry initially reacted strongly to the IT-21 standards but that reaction has become "less strong every day."

The Navy did not arbitrarily draw up standards Clemins said. Instead it relied on the Joint Technical Architecture published by the Defense Information Systems Agency. When vendors approach him for inclusion in the IT-21 architecture Clemins said he asks if they are part of DISA's approved products list. "That's not rocket science " Clemins said adding "I want competition in the marketplace and I will continue to evaluate technology."

Clemins said it was possible that some of the initial IT-21 standards would be outmoded due to the pace of IT developments and updating commercial systems used in IT-21 would be required. But he said "Refreshing with [commercial products] is much cheaper than writing millions of lines of code."

Bob Dornan senior vice president of the IT market research firm Federal Sources Inc. McLean Va. endorsed Clemins' decision to stay the course with the original IT-21 standards. "I commend him for sticking to his guns...and selecting standards is absolutely within his purview as the head of an organization " he said. "He is looking out for the best interests of the organization [and] he is right standards are at the heart of the total cost of ownership issue."

Capt. Tim Traverso director of command control computers communications and intelligence for CINCPACFLT said limited funding resources drive the IT-21 focus on standard systems and common goals. "We don't have the funds anymore not to get things right the first time " Traverso said. "We need to focus programs of record on end-to-end capability." The Navy he said has decided with IT-21 "to work toward a common goal...not stovepiped goals."

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