Global grid, defying skeptics, will gain 70 sites

GIG-BE will support Internet-like capabilities over a network that 'interconnects critical DOD and intelligence facilities throughout the world,' the Defense Information Systems Agency's Tony Montemarano says.

The Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion program could reach full operation this year.

When the Defense Information Systems Agency laid out its vision for a Synchronous Optical Network with throughput of 10 Gbps for classified and unclassified data a few years ago, some critics thought the agency's top brass were overly optimistic.

It was considered impossible 'to roll out terrestrial fiber to more than 80 sites,' said Priscilla Guthrie, the Defense Department's deputy CIO. 'DISA has done one heck of a good job. I think it's a tremendous success story for DISA.'

In October, DISA deployed GIG-BE at 10 sites. It is working to bring the network to between 70 and 90 more sites by September, said Tony Montemarano, GIG-BE program director. DOD envisions the project as the foundation for the future of a network-centric military, providing nearly unlimited bandwidth as Defense agencies integrate IT more and more into their warfighting operations.

Observers find remarkable the fact that GIG-BE, a $900 million program, has remained on schedule and on budget.

The high-speed, high-capacity fiber network, along with the Joint Tactical Radio System and the Transformational Communications Architecture, will form the communications backbone of the Global Information Grid, DOD's plan for a global network for classified and nonclassified data.

Riding on that backbone will be a core group of applications that make up the departmentwide Net-Centric Enterprise Services initiative. The GIG will include a number of security measures and a portfolio of experimental projects dubbed Horizontal Fusion, which will provide users with tools for finding information and analysis from across the military.

Montemarano said GIG-BE will support Internet-like capabilities over a network that 'interconnects critical DOD and intelligence facilities throughout the world.'

The GIG-BE program office is studying the network's reliability at locations where it is in operation. So far, it is faring well, Montemarano said.

'There are very specific, highly complex technical specifications that are being met as the government accepts the fiber,' he said. 'We are collecting statistics in an effort to ensure that the network meets an end-to-end reliability of 99.995.'

In August, DOD's Joint Interoperability Test Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., began initial testing at six locations on the ground-based, switched optical network. The independent testing command examined the GIG-BE infrastructure and analyzed system performance, network management, and the system's ability to manage, detect and resolve faults.

Montemarano said the tests showed 'there are no issues being raised that would give us concern.'

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