Army tests self-healing network

To try to cut through the fog of war, the Army uses tactical operation systems

(TOS) — computer networks that collect information about troop positions

and movements. But battle is messy, and computers don't respond well when

resources unexpectedly become unavailable. In a pervasive computing environment,

such disorder would be the norm.

"From the computer's point of view, the tactical world is almost a nightmare,"

said David Usechak, the Army's product manager for common software at Fort

Monmouth, N.J. "Events occur at random."

The Army is testing Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Jini technology, which helps

computer networks be more flexible. "The self-healing technology is extremely

helpful," Usechak said. "In battle...the guy who can fix them may get shot."

Jini moves self-identification information between servers and clients

so that all members of a network are aware of the others. This communication

allows devices to be configured automatically.

Jini will help TOS users automatically gather data to create a common

tactical picture, a display of all known battlefield information. It will

fetch information from a map server to overlay the positions of battlefield

assets on a map.

The system was demonstrated recently ["Army soars with Openwings," FCW,

Aug. 7], and an early version could be ready in the next 18 months.

In addition, the Navy plans to use Jini on its DD-21 "smart ship" destroyer

to provide the on-board computer network with better survivability and adaptability.

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