GIG-BE winners?

Just before the $500 million fiber contracts are due next week, Defense Information Systems Agency officials have chosen finalists for the $386 million Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion equipment contracts to be awarded in late December.

The finalists are Ciena Corp. for long-haul optics, Sycamore Networks Inc. for optical cross-switches, Cisco Systems Inc. for multiservice provisioning platforms, and Cisco and Juniper Networks Inc. for IP routers, industry officials said.

"We have a pretty good idea of the GIG-BE equipment finalists," said Steve Levy, senior telecom analyst at Lehman Brothers, a New York investment banking firm, in a Sept. 17 telephone interview. "Unless you screw up the trials, you're a lock."

DISA officials will test a small number of equipment suites for security, interoperability and durability for the fast, secure, ubiquitous optical IP network that connects 100 sites worldwide. Warfighters and analysts use the network to more quickly post and access intelligence and data, the agency said in a Sept. 12 statement.

The big GIG-BE equipment winners are Sycamore Networks, based in Chelmsford, Mass. — it is a "huge positive for that company [because] it re-establishes the company in its core market" — and Cisco, based in San Jose, Calif. "The win for Cisco is a positive surprise," Levy said in a Sept. 12 statement. The big loser is Lucent Technologies in the optical cross-connecting category because "the supplier had the best chance of winning this business," he said.

Officials from Cisco and Sycamore Networks declined to discuss if DISA asked them to submit equipment for testing.

We doubt the telecom industry will complain about DISA's customer service after doling out $886 million in contracts in 2003.

AKO's price tag

The Army is spending $30 million annually on the service's popular portal, Army Knowledge Online, said a top service information technology official, who requested anonymity.

AKO proved an invaluable resource in Operation Iraqi Freedom as soldiers and logisticians used the U.S. military's classified Secret Internet Protocol Router Network to access the service portal for warfighting and supply information, the Army IT official said.

"I never thought I would hear that Army Knowledge Online was critical to the combat in Iraq," the official said.

AKO users increased from 61,000 in June 2000 to 1.47 million in August 2003, the Army IT official said. The portal exchanged more than 10 million instant messages in July, the official said.

Are the 10 million instant messages that big a deal? We wonder how many AOL sends each day.

Off with their heads

Navy chief information officer David Wennergren hates portals. Well, he doesn't hate all portals, just the many redundant, overlapping and unnecessary portals that seem to pervade the service.

In June, Wennergren announced he would form a portal management office to whittle down the hundreds of portals that sprout up at individual commands throughout the Navy. Last week, Wennergren said that reduction is not happening nearly as quickly as he'd like.

"All the existing portals will not go away, but I will not build new portals," he said.

Navy officials have been working on their Task Force Web portal to act as an enterprisewide model for both the Navy and the Marine Corps. They also want to use the technology and connectivity offered through the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. Wennergren said he expects to launch a Navy/Marine Corps portal, at long last, in the next 40 to 50 days.

The Task Force Web site, which is controlled by the commander of the Atlantic Fleet and offers information about the Navy/Marine Corps portal, has only been accessed about 1,600 times since March.

It doesn't seem as though sailors are clamoring for this technology.

A DCIS is born

The Defense Cross-credentialing Identification System will open its doors Oct. 1 for what DOD is hoping will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship among the department, industry and other government agencies.

DCIS will consist of shared government and contractor databases of personnel information. The companies involved in the pilot are SRA International Inc., Northrop Grumman Corp., BearingPoint Inc. and EDS. The idea is that government employees and contractors shouldn't have to carry different IDs with them for every facility they have to visit.

Although the idea is starting with DOD, officials hope other government agencies will sign on and form one single, standardized government credential.

And, if other agencies have a problem with the defense-centric name, the overseeing Federated Electronic Government Coalition has already given DCIS an alias: the Federated Identity Cross-Credentialing System.

Sure it's just window dressing, but in this age of "what's-mine-is-mine-ism," a simple name change could make all the difference. n

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