It's raining IP

It's good for DOD, and it's good for the IP market [GCN, Jan. 26, Page 1]. In
buying a pure X.400 and X.500 system, Defense risked having a critical application set
that was slightly out of the mainstream--and would slip further and further into the
backwater.


In agency after agency--indeed, in corporation after corporation--you find systems
managers replacing everything from IBM Systems Network Architecture to Novell IPX with IP
and Internet-inspired elements. In other words, intranets.


Vendors are responding to the phenomenon, too. Every major network software vendor is
rushing to produce IP products.


For example, Novell Inc.'s own latest release of NetWare is all IP. On the hardware
side, the race is on to develop devices that move voice and video data over IP.


Much of the energy going into resolving the still-troublesome issue of large-scale
directories centers on IP. Most promising is the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol,
which the Defense Information Systems Agency is examining for DMS use. It's difficult to
imagine an organization that has more demanding directory requirements than DOD.


And then there's electronic commerce, where the entire government is struggling to
achieve critical mass. Weak security makes commerce over the Internet or among trading
partners via virtual IP networks or intranets too risky.


As with directory services, secure commerce over IP networks is the focus of intense
R&D.


DMS program managers are realistic about DOD's market clout. As the DMS program
manager, Navy Capt. James Day, put it, DOD can't set standards, but it can sway them,
especially standards for security. DOD is no longer the only customer for many products.
But it's a huge customer, and it shouldn't hesitate to let vendors know what it needs.


Everyone wins.


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