Army opens up and says aah
- By Gregory Slabodkin
- Mar 23, 1997
To unify its eclectic mix of servers and client systems, the Army is adopting a
standard, open systems architecture.
"We have to embrace open systems standards that allow the entire computer industry
to compete for our business," said Lt. Gen. William Campbell, the Army's director of
information systems for command, control, communications and computers.
"Open systems standards allow Army users to import world-class solutions to meet
our IT requirements," Campbell said.
The decision to use an open systems architecture came during the service's recent
Director of Information Management conference in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Army information technology managers hold the annual DOIM conference to exchange ideas
and discuss problems.
Army officials decided to leverage prior IT investments made by the service in Unix
workstations, mainframes and workgroup servers.
An open systems architecture, officials said, will allow the service to embrace
up-to-date technologies. The service wants to move to a Microsoft Windows NT environment
and test use of network computers.
Campbell said that the Army could set up pilot programs with a combination of NCs and
PCs supported by powerful and redundant servers.
"We think there is potential to reduce the total cost of doing business by using
server utilities on which NCs can be used effectively," he said.
Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu is hosting a pilot later this year using IBM
Corp.'s Network Station Series 1000, which supports Java.
The NC comes with 64M of RAM, a 200-MHz PowerPC reduced-instruction-set-computing
processor and a $999 price tag.
Other Army sites that are considering NC pilots are the artificial intelligence center
at the Pentagon, the program executive officer for command, control and communications
systems at the Communications'Electronics Command in Fort Monmouth, N.J., and Army Signal
Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
In addition to its widespread use of Windows software, the Army will keep its Macintosh
computers to use graphics in R&D.
The service uses Macs at several sites, including Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.,
and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., Campbell said.
The new commercial standards support a multiprotocol network based on the Army's Joint
Technical Architecture and the Defense Information Infrastructure's Common Operating
Environment. Army officials said they believe the standards will ensure interoperability
IT managers at the DOIM conference reaffirmed their support for JTA-Army, which uses
mandatory standards and protocols to ensure that the service's information systems are
uniform and interoperable.
Campbell said the Army benefits by focusing on standards rather than on product
"The intent is to save money and to be more effective," he said.
Among the e-mail standards the Army adopted are the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol,
Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension, Post Office Protocol and the Internet Messaging
Data access standards include XOpen XA and the Open Database Connectivity standard.
Management standards include the Simple Network Management Protocol, Customer
Information Manager and Web-Based Enterprise Management.
The Army adopted the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, the X.500 standard and the
Domain Name System to meet its directory service requirements. Network interoperability
standards include TCP/IP, File Transfer Protocol, Hypertext Transfer Protocol and Telnet.
File and print standards include Server Message Block, the Common Internet File System
and the Network File System. Security standards include X.509 for digital signatures, the
Kerberos security system, Secure Sockets Layer and Internet Protocol Version 6 Security.
Campbell's staff is outlining the Army's data transport infrastructure in its
Installation, Information and Infrastructure Architecture plan. The plan will also detail
the interfaces linking Army installations to the Nonclassified IP Router Network, the LANs
connecting buildings on base, and the servers and workstations that support end users.
The service already adopted the Power Projection C4 Infrastructure, a modernization
plan to digitize the Army's telecommunications systems on bases.
PPC4I combines continuing Army IT modernization efforts including the Common User
Installation Transport Network (CUITN), Outside Cable Rehabilitation (OSCAR), Army Defense
Information Systems Network Router Program (ADRP), Major Command Telephone Modernization
Program (MTMP) and Digital Switched Systems Modernization Program (DSSMP).
ADRP provides hardware, software and network management systems to connect Army
installations to NIPRnet. MTMP gives Army bases fiber-optic cable and telephone switching
systems that support Integrated Services Digital Network.
OSCAR also provides repair and replacement of deteriorated cable.
DSSMP, the successor to MTMP, will modernize communications further by using new
commercial hardware and software to combine voice and data communications in one system.
CUITN will give Army bases a fiber, asynchronous transfer mode backbone that handles
OC-12 transmission rates. The service's building nodes would support with OC-3 transfer