Norfolk battens down NMCI's hatches in preparation for Irene

With Hurricane Irene bearing down on the mid-Atlantic region, the Navy is taking measures to ensure the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), the major naval network operations center at Norfolk, Va., and all data centers remain up and running.

“Whenever an event like this happens, we have a critical situation meeting to prepare,” said Bill Toti, vice president of Department of the Navy strategic programs at HP. HP is currently operating NMCI under a continuity-of-service contract.

“It’s very regimented, disciplined, precise and procedurally driven,” Toti said. “But we’ve been through this many time in the past 10 years and we have a lot of best practices.”

With Irene threatening a dispersed area of key Navy and Marine Corps IT hubs, precautions are being taken in Norfolk and at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Quantico, Va.

“We’re transferring all of our network operations to alternate sites,” he said. The Atlantic fleet command concentration is centered at Norfolk, and to ensure against any potentially damaging outages that could hinder the flow of bandwidth and traffic, classified network operations are being transferred to Pacific Fleet Headquarters at Pearl Harbor, while unclassified operations will be routed to San Diego.

The Marine Corps is transferring its network operations to Camp Pendleton, Calif., he said.

“NMCI is an enclave behind firewall barriers – traffic needs to get in and out through boundaries, which is how it’s kept safe,” he said. “So we have to make sure the high-priority traffic keeps flowing.”

Data centers are also being steeled against the hurricane threat, Toti said.

“Our data centers are distributed and they’re vulnerable to events like this, and we realize that. We make sure the data that resides here is backed up in an area that’s not susceptible to these kinds of events,” he said.

The official was confident that the Navy and Marine Corps’ systems would remain safe and online despite the hurricane threat.

“Our system is architected in a way that it has those protections,” he said.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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