A single DMS mail network is still 10 years off
- By Vanessa Jo Grimm
- Nov 04, 1996
Don't look for all Defense Department and CIA users to use the Defense Message System
on a single network until around 2007.
Although DOD managers once expected an integrated DMS to be fully operational by 2000,
they now say security concerns will force them to operate three message networks for at
least the next five years and probably longer.
"I don't look for everybody living peacefully together in one network, including
the intelligence users, within the next five to 10 years," DMS program manager Tom
Clarke said last month during a briefing at the Canadian Embassy in Washington.
For the next three to five years, DOD will rely on a three-tiered DMS to support e-mail
traffic for the military services. Around 2000, Clarke expects, the department will begin
to merge unclassified and secret users on a single network.
But Clarke predicts it will take five more years--extending the DMS program to
2007--before a single DMS will serve Defense and CIA intelligence users who transmit
sensitive compartmented information.
Clarke referred to these intelligence specialists as the "no-way Joses"
because they refuse to move onto the Non-Classified IP Router Network until the Defense
Information Systems Agency can "clean up its act."
The DMS goal is simple. "We want secure, accountable writer-to-reader messaging
for the warfighter at an affordable cost," Clarke said. But meeting security
requirements for users with varying security clearances and needs makes that difficult.
Although DOD has backed off on its early ambitions for a single network system by 2000,
Clarke said, "the objective continues to be a single ubiquitous system" for all
DOD and CIA users.
For the time being, DOD will have three enclaves of DMS users. At the unclassified
level, DOD users will transmit messages on NIPRnet, which Clarke described as merely a
subset of the Internet. At the secret-level, DOD employees will route mail across the
Secret IP Router Network (SIPRnet).
For the highest tier, the intelligence users and senior brass will ship their sensitive
compartmented information on the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System.
This fall, the three vendors developing DMS-compliant mail user applications--Microsoft
Corp., Lotus Development Corp. and Enterprise Solutions Ltd. of Westlake Village,
Calif.--are jockeying for position in an anticipated DOD e-mail market of 2 million users.
Last week, Microsoft was bragging that its Microsoft Exchange DMS had completed the
conformance tests. It is the first to get the Joint Interoperability Test Center at Fort
Huachuca, Ariz., to register its initial test results, but for only one of four
conformance pegs that are part of the first set of tests.
Executives from Lotus and ESL said their packages, Lotus Notes DMS and EXM-Mail
respectively, also have completed these tests and are awaiting JITC staff paperwork
reviews followed by inclusion on the JITC registry.
DISA and DMS prime contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. are on schedule to get the user
agents--Microsoft Exchange DMS, Lotus Notes DMS and ESL's EXM-Mail--through conformance
and lab tests and then registered with JITC by mid-December, according to the schedule
Clarke released at his briefing.
Next come the formal system-level tests and evaluation scoring at DOD facilities.
Slated to begin in mid-January, Clarke said, they will run eight weeks. The tests are the
precursor to a sweeping rollout of DMS to 123 military bases next year. Clarke cautioned
that this does not mean the 123 sites will be able to run DMS basewide.
To ensure that DMS users can communicate and exchange messages containing attachments
with other e-mail users, DISA and Lockheed Martin have designed a multifunction
interpreter, or MFI. Clarke called the MFI "a critical, critical component."
The MFI, a universal server that Communications & Power Engineering Inc. of
Camarillo, Calif., is building for DMS, will serve as the gateway between DMS messages and
all other e-mail applications. It is an essential cog because DOD organizations obviously
will not all convert to DMS at once.
The MFI will let DMS users communicate with users still relying on the elderly Autodin
system, plus users within and outside DOD using non-DMS-compliant x.400 mail and Simple
Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) Internet mail. The gateway server also will give DMS users a
way to pull down attachments to Internet mail, the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
Clarke said that although such a product was not commercially available when DOD began
its DMS work nine years ago, he expects MFI servers to become more readily available
because there is a market for better gateways to SMTP/MIME users.
What ultimately will drive DMS users into a single enclave is tactical messaging,
Clarke said. DOD has to get to a single messaging system to avoid deploying multiple
messaging terminals to the battlefield, he said.
This proposition will force DOD to find the technical protections that make a single
system possible, Clarke said. Otherwise, the worst-case scenario requires DOD to field and
support three separate terminals for messaging in the field.