NMCI network center opens

Naval Station Norfolk

Electronic Data Systems Corp. opened a network operations center this week in the third-largest U.S. building east of the Mississippi River. There, the company eventually will handle help-desk calls and network management for 67,000 users through the Navy Marine Corps Intranet procurement.

The building—at the Naval Base Norfolk, Va.—features one of the first aboveground bomb shelters in the United States, according to Dan Proctor, EDS' network operations center manager there. EDS is using 75,000 to 78,000 square feet in the building, which features a "reliable infrastructure" for communications, he said.

For example, each Sun Microsystems Inc. server hard drive that EDS uses for network management has a mirrored or identical hard drive that EDS can swap in when there's a failure, Proctor said. EDS also maintains two uninterruptible power supply banks and two power cables and power substations for each server and storage machine, he said.

The six network operations centers that EDS is opening for NMCI are crucial to the $6.9 billion procurement. All voice, video and data traffic to the Defense Information Systems Network will flow through the centers. That should make Navy Department networks less susceptible to intrusions, compared with the current situation, where there are about 100 entry points to DISN, according to Scott Henderson, the NMCI information assurance head at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego.

EDS is paying for the cost of building and staffing the network operations centers, with the company making back its investment through the per-user cost it's charging the Navy, said Capt. Chris Christopher, the Navy Department's deputy program executive officer for information technology.

In awarding NMCI in October 2000 and now opening the network operations center, the Navy Department is well on its way to achieving something of a Holy Grail in DOD computing: centralizing network management and improving "last mile" connectivity from the DISN into bases.

The Defense Information Systems Agency maintains DISN, which all Defense Department organizations use for long-haul voice, video and data communications.

Using Remedy Corp. help-desk software, the Norfolk center should handle about 300,000 help desk calls each month, said Annette Rogers, EDS' help-desk manager in Norfolk. According to one NMCI service-level agreement, EDS must solve at least 65 percent of non-mission-critical help-desk calls while the caller is still on the phone, she said. To meet another service-level agreement, EDS must answer 80 percent of NMCI mission-critical help-desk calls when the user calls in, she said.

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