Navy ship LANs to run Gigabit Ethernet

To ease administration and speed data, the Navy has decided to use Gigabit

Ethernet to run the second generation of modernized Navy shipboard networks.

Rear Adm. John Gauss, commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems

Command, approved the new shipboard design last month after a six-month

review, according to Scott Randall, program director for naval networks

and information assurance at Spawar.

Randall spoke Wednesday at the Navy Connecting Technology conference

in San Diego. The Navy has been using both Ethernet and Asynchronous Transfer

Mode on its local-area networks and found they're too hard to maintain together,

Randall said. Using Gigabit Ethernet simplifies LAN administration, he said.

Gigabit Ethernet also offers the benefit of greater speed, supporting

data transfer rates of 1,000 megabits/second. Ethernet supports rates up

to 100 megabits/sec, and ATM can support 25 to 622 megabits/sec.

And Gigabit Ethernet enables network administrators to set policies

so that high-priority users and applications take precedence when there's

a bandwidth crunch.

The Navy is implementing Gigabit Ethernet on ashore networks through

its Navy Marine Corps Intranet contract with Electronic Data Systems Corp.,

Randall said. Navy officials are considering using NMCI or another contract

to purchase equipment for their program, "Information Technology for the

21st Century," and they may also lease systems. "The refresh rates on ships

are nowhere near what NMCI provides," Randall said.

Using similar systems under both programs should reduce training costs,

he said. Furthermore, he said that installing Gigabit Ethernet aboard about

300 ships will cost no more than what the Navy has been paying to install

ATM and Ethernet networks under its IT-21 program.

In addition to "back-fitting" IT-21 ATM and Ethernet LANs with Gigabit

Ethernet and installing new networks, the Navy also is consolidating its

shipboard Microsoft Corp. Windows NT 4.0 and Unix servers, Randall said.

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