Navy wants to centrally manage IT assets

NEW ORLEANS – Centralized management of Navy IT assets is a theme of the service’s Program Executive Office for Information Technology (PEO-IT) conference here this week, a process that starts with an inventory and then policy development, Navy IT leaders said.

Steve Ehrler, the Navy’s program executive officer for IT, said in the applications area alone his organization initially identified 65,000 applications in the Navy, but through “centralized asset discovery” has now pared that down to about 9,500 applications on board ships and another 7,000 applications ashore running on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI).

Centrally managing these applications will eventually provide the Navy with a cost effective way to do its business as well as with built in security checks, Ehrler said. “The smallest piece of software could be a security issue,” Ehrler said.

He said the Navy needs to develop a “new way of thinking” to manage its applications from a security perspective, so it can regularly scan its networks for security flaws and centralize patch management.

PEO-IT also has a charter for server consolidation throughout the Navy, Ehrler said, but here too, any central management has to begin with an inventory of the number of servers in the Navy. The server and application inventory has already identified “applications we don’t need and obsolete servers,” Ehrler said.

Ron Swecker, project director for server consolidation at PEO-IT said that any wide scale server consolidation within the Navy requires coordination between three different organizations, including PEO-IT, the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for IT and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) which handles shipboard systems while PEO-IT works with land based systems.

Swecker said that its “makes sense” from an economic viewpoint for PEO-IT and SPAWAR to work together on server consolidation and joint procurements to leverage the Navy’s buying power, but could not provide a time frame when such a joint effort would commence.

Robert Wolborsky, program manager for network information assurance and enterprise services at SPAWAR, plans to gather ideas from industry on yet another kind of consolidation, the convergence of shipboard networks and applications on the IP standard.

SPAWAR plans to outfit 110 ships in the fleet with voice-over-IP technology as well as converged voice, video and data IP networks. Wolborsky said he wants to tap into commercial technologies that can be adapted for use in the fleet.

Both Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks are ready to provide Wolborsky and SPAWAR with more than a few good ideas. Kevin Orr, Cisco’s Defense Department operations director said he plans to show Wolborsky secure VOIP systems with DOD certificates and encryption built directly intro handsets and network hardware and software.

Cisco also plans to pitch its circuit emulation product capable of handling shipboard circuits as well as integrated Web collaboration tools that combine voice, video and data into one package.

Chuck Saffell, president of Nortel’s federal network solutions division, said his company plans to demonstrate in New Orleans a combined PBX and router that can handle all of the Navy’s converged IP requirements in “one box about two inches tall and 14 inches wide.” Nortel also plans to show Wolborsky its shipboard wireless systems, which can help eliminate cabling, reduce costs and save weight.

Saffell said deploying a converged IP network to ships currently in the fleet will help the Navy to maximize limited bandwidth on ships. Orr said he agreed, and added that the Navy needs to upgrade the networks on existing ships as planned new builds, such as the littoral class ships and the new DDX destroyers, which will have IP networks built-in.

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