Navy refines process for legacy apps

Imagine if you discovered you were maintaining applications that nobody used.

The Navy, as part of its massive effort to reduce the number of applications used across the organization, has discovered that a staggering number of programs — as many as 20 percent of the applications that were slated to be moved to the new Navy Marine Corps Intranet — have no identifiable users, Navy officials said.

"We were stunned by the numbers," said Allie Lawaetz, NMCI's legacy applications manager, in a July 30 briefing with reporters.

Such applications either do not work in a Microsoft Corp. Windows 2000 environment or do not meet Defense Department and Navy software security requirements.

Overall, the Navy has slashed the number of applications by more than 67 percent as part of its $6.9 billion effort to create an enterprisewide network across more than 400,000 of its shore-based seats.

The overwhelming number of applications — the Navy tabulated 96,025 in February — has been one of the most significant hurdles for the Navy's NMCI rollout.

Lawaetz said the Navy was able to cut the number of applications by nearly 65,000 as of July 24, to 31,287. And the Navy expects to cut that amount to about 20,000 by year's end, she added.

Previously, the legacy application process overwhelmed both the Navy and NMCI's lead vendor, EDS, officials acknowledged. The list that the Navy originally produced was largely based on the inventory collected as part of the Year 2000 date change, and that proved to be woefully low.

"Nobody thought there were 100,000 applications," said George Sibley, EDS' deputy program executive for NMCI.

Navy and EDS officials have been working to streamline the process for dealing with legacy applications.

Previously, the process could be stymied by a handful of troublesome applications, Lawaetz said. Navy and EDS officials would focus on fixing those specific legacy applications, which would then delay the further rollout of seats, she said.

The new process instead puts those applications temporarily aside so that a small number of programs don't hold up the entire NMCI initiative. Those applications are temporarily "quarantined" on the old network until those applications can be fixed, she said.

Furthermore, EDS has established local, miniature versions of the NMCI network, which enables users to put their applications through the paces in the new environment on a trial basis, Sibley said.

Navy and EDS officials have also established user profiles that outline what applications are needed for certain jobs. This has enabled officials to deal with groups, rather than individuals, and has allowed EDS to roll out seats more rapidly, said Capt. Fred Mingo, chief information officer for the Naval Reserve, who was closely involved with the initial rollout of NMCI at the Naval Air Facility Washington, located at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

The advantages of user profiles were among the important lessons learned from the early rollout process at the facility, officials said.

Navy officials stressed that although they are focusing on rolling out seats more quickly, they are not sacrificing the security of the NMCI network, which has been one of the reasons for moving toward an enterprisewide system. Instead, applications that do not meet Navy and DOD security policies are being quarantined on the stand-alone computers.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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