Boutelle joins Cisco

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle began his private-sector career today at Cisco Systems, joining the IP hardware and software vendor as vice president of its Global Government Solutions Group, the company said. 

In his new capacity Boutelle, former chief information officer/G-6 of the Army, will lead Cisco’s participation in the Internet routing in space (IRIS) initiative, which Intelsat launched in April as an industry-government collaboration intended to explore the feasibility of adapting IP routing technologies for use on satellite communications links to achieve higher throughput and increased network efficiency for the military.


Cisco announced the hiring shortly after the Senate confirmed his successor, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, as CIO/G-6 of the Army — and, according to Boutelle, at exactly the right juncture for Boutelle to champion the military’s use of IP routing in space as a private-sector advocate, he said in an interview. 


“The timing was absolutely right to move the Department of Defense’s networks into this next huge phase,” Boutelle said. “You have huge efficiencies that you can gain if you take [an] Internet router and put it on the space platform.”


Early experiments such as the launch of a modified Cisco router on a NASA satellite in September 2003 demonstrated that IP routing can increase the throughput of a satellite link by a factor of at least seven to 10, according to Boutelle; for the military that translates into flexibility in the capacity, cost and size of the satellite dishes it deploys in the field. 


With IP routing, “you get a big bump in throughput, and that will be a huge enabler for the military,” Boutelle said, especially as DOD delivers greater quantities of voice-over-IP, video and collaborative services closer to the tactical edge of the battlefield. The higher performance, for example, means the military can in the near future use smaller, cheaper satellite dishes to receive the same amount of data as today’s bulkier systems or use the same size dishes to receive vastly more data than is possible now, he said.


Cisco is now building a router that it will put into orbit in the second quarter of 2009. The vendor expects this will inaugurate a massive transition to IP routing technologies by the commercial satellite industry, which will lead in short order to the availability to the military of IP-over-satellite capabilities,  since about 80 percent of the satellite links used by DOD are leased commercial satellite segments, Boutelle said.


John Rendleman writes for Government Computer News, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

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