Old DOD net is key to new global grid

'You can liken it to the road system where GIG-BE represents the high-speed interstate system wahile DISN constitutes the local on-ramps and tributaries.'

'DOD's Tony Montemarano

Olivier Douliery

The $900 million Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion program will give the Defense Information System Network a new lease on life.

The Defense Department will use the existing DISN infrastructure to provide last-mile connectivity to the global grid, a ground-based switched optical network that will create a worldwide information backbone supporting 10-Gbps and faster connections.

'You can liken it to the road system where GIG-BE represents the high-speed interstate system while DISN constitutes the local on-ramps and tributaries,' GIG-BE program director Tony Montemarano said. 'In time, the distinction between DISN and GIG-BE will be eliminated, and it will become one integrated telecommunications infrastructure.'

To revamp DISN for integration with GIG-BE, the Defense Information Systems Agency this spring will release a request for proposals for the DISN Access Transport Services (DATS) contract.

At the heart

'What will happen is GIG-BE will basically present itself as an enhancement to the DISN backbone or the core,' Montemarano said.

Before the department can issue the RFP, the department's senior IT officials must give the DATS project their approval. DISA wants to award an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract in late summer.

The contract will merge DISN and GIG-BE at 600 DOD sites not covered by the grid, said Joseph P. Boyd, chief of DISA's Center for Network Services.

'The DISN Access Transport Services contract is planned to become the vehicle that will allow DISA to eliminate multiple transport infrastructures,' Boyd said.

DISN provides connections for key command control and communications applications, such as the Defense Message System, Global Command and Control System, and Global Combat Support System'systems that must be accessible via GIG-BE.

GIG-BE will let DISA get rid of much of the existing DISN core, but the agency also needs a way to connect the older network and its service delivery nodes to the global grid's architecture, Boyd said.

Through GIG-BE and DATS, the agency will develop that connectivity as an IP transport system.

DISA has awarded a variety of DISN contracts'some of which will expire within the next two years. The contracts include leased commercial satellite links, as well as support, videoconferencing and transmission services.

As part of the DISN upgrade, many legacy voice, data and video systems, as well as emerging capabilities'such as the department's premier network-centric warfare initiatives'will move to operate over IP. DISN currently operates via a switched-circuit transport system.

Through the department's Net-Centric Enterprise Services program, DISA will integrate common information services over the Global Information Grid to meet the aim of creating a net-centric department as outlined in DOD brass' transformation strategies.

'This will require major architectural changes and, in some cases like DISN Video Services, will require [major] technological upgrades to that which is in use today,' Boyd said.

DOD is rolling out GIG-BE worldwide at roughly 100 sites. The network initially will offer OC-192 connectivity, with throughput of 10 Gbps. The grid will be deployed to the DISN's largest sites. An upgraded DISN will remain at 600 other sites globally.

Montemarano said most of the smaller Defense sites don't need the much greater bandwidth that GIG-BE will bring to larger combatant commands and intelligence sites.

By September, GIG-BE will be operational at 10 sites. The program will add 10 more sites by December and finish deployment by September of next year.

The network will be scalable, Montemarano said, so bandwidth can be added easily by inserting optical line termination cards into switches as DISA deems necessary.

In December, DISA and prime contractor Science Applications International Corp. awarded four indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity hardware and software equipment contracts under GIG-BE. The contracts went to:
  • Ciena Corp. of Linthicum, Md., for its optical transport system equipment

  • Cisco Systems Inc. and Qwest Government Services of Arlington, Va., for multiservice provisioning platform equipment

  • Juniper Networks Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., for IP router equipment

  • Sprint Corp. of Kansas City, Mo., and Sycamore Networks Inc. of Chelmsford, Mass., for optical digital cross-connect equipment.

A few months earlier, DISA and SAIC awarded two multiyear contracts for fiber-optic network services. DISA has another fiber RFP on the street; bids are due this week.

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