Learning from NMCI

The Air Force is already tackling an issue that has plagued the Navy Marine Corps Intranet — the overwhelming number of computer applications in use across the service.

As the Navy began implementating NMCI, officials discovered that the service had more than 100,000 applications, which slowed its attempts to transition to the new network.

Navy Capt. Chris Christopher, NMCI staff director, said the Air Force should proceed cautiously.

"I can tell you that whatever their most pessimistic thought is regarding how many legacy applications they have, the reality will be much worse," he said.

The Air Force study also should determine the end goal, Christopher said. "They can, if they want, just hand over all of their operations to a private contractor and tell the contractor to run it," he said. "Or, they can look to consolidate their applications and standardize on one common network and a common list of applications. Either way, the preparations will be critical to do this expeditiously."

The Air Force's approach to look to others for information technology outsourcing lessons is wise, said Ron Turner, a principal at Booz Allen Hamiltonand the Navy's former deputy chief information officer for infrastructure, systems and technology.

"I think after the Air Force — like many others — saw [all the attention that was drawn] when the Navy did NMCI, it opted for an approach that was more methodical and within its ability to control," Turner said.

"The Air Force made a decision a while ago, as it modernized infrastructure, [that] access to legacy applications would be through its Global Combat Support System-Air Force portal interface and interface standards. This absolutely was the right way to go," he said.

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