Navy to test for NMCI compatibility

NMCI Web site

NEW ORLEANS — The Navy announced today that it will launch an initiative in November to test software applications for compatibility with the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

This test will be the first step toward certifying applications to be deployed across the Navy-wide network.

"We'd like a way to pre-qualify products to ensure they won't create problems for us," said Navy Capt. Chris Christopher, the NMCI staff director, speaking at the National Defense Industrial Association's NMCI conference here. "If your applications create problems for other applications on the network, you're not much of a neighbor."

The NMCI product evaluation center is set to go live in November and will be an entry point for product consideration. It will also serve as a source for functional area managers, who will eliminate legacy and unapproved applications from the network, and area commands to find products that could then go through the certification process.

The center will provide a service — at a cost — to commercial enterprises that want to have applications suitable for the network. The Navy will list compatible products on the NMCI Web site and provide vendors with status reports. If a product is not approved, the Navy will specify to the vendor why it failed and what needs to be done to become compatible.

Christopher said it is still unclear what the center will be testing or what the compatibility criteria will be, but those decisions will be made during the next several months.

"Basically, we're trying to ensure that when we bring you into the house, you won't make a mess on the floor," he said.

Christopher cautioned that the center would not initially provide any kind of certification, which is the final step a product must pass before receiving approval for deployment on the network. It will not test for suitability or effectiveness, he said, only compatibility. It also will not tell the functional area managers what to do, he said.

"It will not dictate NMCI decisions and will not make acquisition choices," Christopher said.

He likened the compatibility standard to the Underwriter's Laboratory Inc. or Good Housekeeping seals of approval.

He did acknowledge that problems could arise if a Navy command buys software that has been approved as compatible, but is not certified. Without certification, the Navy will not allow an application to reside anywhere on the network.

"It is a potential Catch-22," he said. "But we'll hopefully work through that as time goes on."

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