DISA will design DISN with ATM model suite

The Defense Information Systems Agency will use an early version of a network modeling
suite it co-funded to help design one of the world's largest asynchronous transfer mode
networks.


DISA partnered with Make Systems Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., to ensure that NetMaker
XA 3.0 had functions for building ATM infrastructure into the modernized Defense
Information Systems Network. A commercial release of NetMaker XA 3.0 is set for release by
the end of the year.


The suite for IBM AIX and SunSoft Solaris incorporates DISA-specific technology
developed by Make Systems for the Modular Information Infrastructure Design and Analysis
System. DISA has used MIIDAS since 1995.


Combining ATM features with modeling tools for other networking structures will improve
quality of service across a network as complex as DISN, which will integrate all the
Defense Department's long-haul traffic onto a single backbone.


Although DISN will be primarily ATM, various devices along the edge will use IP and
other protocols.


"You lose the intrinsic quality-of-service guarantee of having ATM end to
end" by incorporating the other technologies, said Steve Howard, president of Make
Systems.


But quality-of-service problems cannot be resolved by simply throwing bandwidth at
them, Howard said. Large carriers need ways to optimize price-performance, he said.


MIIDAS has quite a few functions not readily available outside of DISA, said Ed Sykes,
chief technology officer of Make Systems, so it can serve as a prototyping platform.


In cooperation with DISA, the company already has released two versions of NetMaker for
network modeling and analysis of time division multiplexing systems. Make Systems saw
folding MIIDAS into NetMaker as an economical route to a new product, and DISA saw the
combination as a way to get the functions it needed within a commercial product.


The DISA partnership wielded enough clout to obtain proprietary information from other
vendors to do device-specific modeling of ATM switches and ensure a given level of
service, company officials said.


The NetMaker XA release will include a Programmable Device Library and an Application
Profile Directory.


About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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