Quantico preps for NMCI center

Having received the go-ahead to proceed with the rollout of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, the next major step for the multibillion-dollar project appears to be setting up a network operations center (NOC) — at least a transitional one — for the Marine Corps at Quantico, Va.

The Marines have pushed hard for an NOC at Quantico, but space concerns have delayed its deployment. In fact, NMCI's global NOC was to be located there, but space constraints forced the Navy to keep the global center at the NOC in Norfolk, Va.

EDS, the company contracted to build out the Navy intranet, already has constructed three NOCs: the Naval Station in Norfolk, Va.; the Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif.; and Ford Island in Oahu, Hawaii. The fourth NOC, which will be the Marine Corps' backbone, has been slated for Quantico.

Now, according to Col. Robert Baker, chief of the Marine Corps network plans and policy division, an interim NOC is being established at what he referred to as a "very large server farm" at Quantico.

"We have offered, per the contract, the facility and we're currently in the negotiation stage with EDS," Baker said.

"But the bottom line is that we're taking what was a very large server farm and we're going to use it as what we'll call a transitional NOC," he continued. "There's no other facility at Quantico, other than that, that's really available."

The NOCs provide mission-critical services for the Navy's new EDS-owned network, such as network management and monitoring, help-desk support, user administration and information assurance.

Kevin Clarke, a spokesman for EDS, said a final decision as to where the fourth NOC will be located has not been reached.

"We are developing a capability to monitor and manage the Marine Corps NMCI seats, and our goal is to have this capability fully functional by the time the first Marine Corps seat cutovers begin in Spring 2003," Clarke said. "The target location for that capability is to house it at Quantico Marine Corps Base. However, a final decision has not been made on the location or configuration of the Marine Corps monitoring facility."

Capt. Stuart Upton, a Marine Corps spokesman, said the final stages of the coordination between the Marine Corps and EDS is taking place, and he said he doesn't see any major obstacles to finalization occurring soon.

"These negotiations are ongoing with the same mind-set that we want to have some functional operating capability by February, but that's not set in stone," Upton said. "We do want the NOC to be fully operational by [the fourth quarter] of 2003. ... We think we will be able to accommodate EDS at the site we've recommended, and we'll soon know if we can meet all of their requirements."

Upton said one possibility would be that some of a traditional NOC's capabilities would begin to be implemented at Quantico while other upgrades to the facility occur simultaneously.

"Our plan is for the fourth NOC to go in at Quantico, and we're moving forward with that mind-set," Upton said.

The current rollout plan for the Marine Corps is to move from the East Coast to the West, Clarke said.

The Navy last month received the go-ahead to proceed with rolling out up to 160,000 seats. Congress imposed a cap of 60,000 seats until EDS reached more of its service-level agreements. To date, EDS has rolled out more than 47,000 seats, but would have been forced to stop at 60,000 if approval to go beyond that number were not given.

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