DISA planning DMS upgrade

The Defense Information Systems Agency this year plans to replace 600 management workstations used in the Defense Message System that suffer from technical glitches and outdated software.

According to an information paper obtained by Federal Computer Week, "user acceptance has been very poor" for the DMS Management Workstation (MWS) because of a series of technical shortcomings identified as early as 1998. The paper, issued Feb. 16, also outlined needed software upgrades and detailed an acquisition strategy for a new prototype.

DISA is evaluating vendor proposals to build a replacement MWS. According to the paper, a prototype will be available by the end of the year.

Management workstations are used to conduct overall management of the DMS messaging system, such as updating directories, tracing failed messages and configuration management. Following are some of the technical problems and issues that have plagued DISA's MWS:

    * Periodic false status messages.

    * Difficulty in performing message traces.

    * No automated software version tracking.

    * Security vulnerabilities in Simple Network Management Protocol.

    * Firewall policies that preclude active monitoring.

In addition, the commercial management software used on the MWS — Computer Associates Inc.'s Enterprise View — has reached its "end of life and will not be supported in the future," according to the information paper.

DISA established an Integrated Process Team in March 1999 to prioritize user requirements for improvement of the MWS, but FCW has learned that technical problems existed as early as May 1998.

According to a statement of work posted on DISA's World Wide Web site in 1998, the DMS Management Workstation prototype effort was initiated "due to shortcomings of the current DMS MWS product developed under the [Lockheed Martin Federal Systems] DMS contract."

"The current DMS MWS product," continued to the statement of work, "is built on a product which is no longer marketed, lacks scalability, allows no manager-to-manager capability, is inflexible to meet changing operational requirements, and which requires extensive operator expertise to operate."

DISA could not be reached for comment.

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