Cyberdefense and Information Assurance, Navy, tech

Navy 2nd Fleet drops own network for NMCI

The US Navy’s Second Fleet has migrated  the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) as part of its establishment of a Maritime Operations Center, according to a Navy spokesperson.  Second Fleet, which had a waiver from using NMCI because of its command and control mission,  will now operate both its unclassified but sensitive (NIPRnet) and secret-classified (SIPRNet) systems on NMCI, which is operated for the Navy by Hewlett-Packard’s EDS.

EDS’s NMCI contract ends on September 30, 2010. However, the Navy is still working on the procurement strategy for Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN), the follow-on to NMCI–which will “in-house” operation of the Navy’s networks again–and the Navy is preparing to offer a no-compete contract to EDS to continue to operate NMCI’s services during a transition period to the new network.  The contract will also give the Navy access to the intellectual property EDS has generated around the operation of NMCI.  So while the NMCI contract is close to its end, the lifecycle of the NMCI infrastructure is far from over.  Migrating also helps Second Fleet save on network operation costs, and will probably improve overall security since the command will benefit from EDS’s patch management and information assurance operations, served up out of EDS’ enterprise Network Operations Centers in Norfolk, San Diego and Pearl Harbor. (A fourth NOC at Quantico serves the Marine Corps.)

The decision to move to NMCI was made by Commander Second Fleet  independent of the NGEN program. A spokesperson for NMCI characterized the move as being a purely operational decision. But it speaks to the maturity of NMCI, in its 10th year of operations, that a C2 organization would move to what was originally devised as a purely administrative network.  And  Navy CIO Robert Carey has been beating the drum for the consolidation of the Navy’s multitude of legacy and “waiver” networks into a smaller number of service-wide networks as part of his NNE 2016 vision for Navy IT — which Second Fleet’s move, while executed independently from the DON CIO’s office, conforms to.

Carey recently blogged about the value of “thinking like an enterprise” with the Navy’s networks in a discussion of the current Navy shipboard IT procurement, Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES).  “It is important for the Department of the Navy to think and act like an enterprise because of the potential to realize a number of important benefits including increased integration of our operating forces, improved interoperability, and consistent and improved information assurance,” he wrote. “These benefits are in addition to cost savings, cost avoidance and more effective use of the Department’s resources.”

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