Letter to the editor

After spending two years to roll out nearly 35,000 seats, the Navy finally has ONE non-Microsoft Corp. Office application running on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. What an amazing accomplishment! Billions of dollars spent, hundreds of thousands of man-hours from contractors and civilians, and this is what we have to show for it.

Let's not get into whether enterprise resource planning (ERP) really works at the Naval Air Systems Command; that's a topic for a different discussion ["NMCI earns kudos for easing software rollout"]. There are plenty of users at Navair who can testify what an unmitigated disaster the standup has been.

Let's get back to the fundamental point: Hundreds of thousands of applications were found within the Navy, with 3,000 to 5,000 targeted for transition to NMCI and now we have ONE finally working on the new Navy enterprise network.

I take issue with Susan Keen's statement that now the infrastructure is there to support any application. It supports Microsoft Office and ERP. All this for the astonishing low price of $8 billion.

The typical user who had applications for scheduling, data analysis, engineering design, logistics and the other myriad functions that ERP won't support are patiently waiting for some word when their applications will migrate to their new seats.

It seems the process to get a new application approved to be installed on a workstation could take years. This is longer than most military and civilian personnel stay in a particular billet. Program managers and project engineers are going to have to pass down to their replacements the list of backlogged applications waiting to be installed on the new collaborative architecture.

This is supposed to be the architecture where the Navy collaborates with new applications for network-centric warfare to provide reachback for deployed sailors to home commands. It's too bad that by the time one of these applications gets approved for use on NMCI, the developer will probably have retired.

According to Capt. Chris Christopher [NMCI's deputy director of plans, policy and oversight], now we can start looking at exploring the advantages of the NMCI network. That's a bit late in the game to start looking for some benefits.

Name withheld by request

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