Air Force's DMS base rollout reaches halfway point

The Air Force is almost halfway to its goal of setting up Defense Message System sites
at 92 active-duty bases worldwide by 2000, an Air Force official said.


The service will have Defense Message System sites up and running at 35 locations in
the United States, four bases in Europe and six bases in the Pacific by the end of the
month, Air Force officials said.


Defense Information Systems Agency technicians from Regional Operations and Security
Centers in Europe, the Pacific and United States are helping Air Force technicians install
the system. The DISA employees are also running tests to commission the DMS sites for both
classified and sensitive-but-unclassified levels.


“We’re having to go back and redo secret a lot, especially in the
Pacific,” said Maj. Rita McNeely, deputy program manager for the Standard Systems
Group’s DMS Program Management Office at Gunter Annex, Ala. “We’ve been
able to do a lot better in Europe.”


McNeely said that Pacific bases have installed DMS at the sensitive-but-unclassified
level. DISA is still tweaking the secret-level DMS infrastructure because few of the Air
Force sites that need it have access to the Secret IP Router Network.


The European deployment has its problems, too, Air Force officials said. A strike among
Turkish workers has delayed DMS deployment at the Incirlik air base in Turkey for a couple
of months, McNeely said.


The service has set up DMS help desks to handle systems engineering problems. Sterling
Software Inc. of Dallas is providing technical support and is fielding troubleshooting
calls.


The DMS help desk for Europe in Stuttgart, Germany, handles about 20 calls a day from
technicians at Royal Air Force bases in Lakenheath and Mildenhall, United Kingdom and
Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases in Germany, service officials said.


The service is installing Microsoft Exchange 5.0 on servers running Windows NT 4.0 at
seven to 10 DMS sites per month, McNeely said.


The Air Force wants to deploy DMS to more than 300 sites worldwide by December 1999,
including 92 active duty bases, McNeely said. The service will soon survey three tactical
DMS sites—two in Saudi Arabia and one in Kuwait—for installation in March.


The Air Force bought 118,000 copies of Exchange client software as the DMS user agent,
McNeely said. “It’s up to the individual bases to migrate and grow their
users,” she said.


DMS Version 1.1, which includes Exchange 5.0, is already being used at Air Force bases,
McNeely said. The DMS Program Office has not yet decided when to deploy DMS Version 2.0,
which includes Exchange 5.5, she said.


Eventually, the Air Force will change its DMS user agent from Exchange to Microsoft
Outlook 98, McNeely said.


“I have both on my computer,” McNeely said. “There are a lot of features
of Outlook 98 that I personally like, and I can say the same thing about Exchange.”


SSG publicly announced at last year’s Air Force Information Technology Conference
in Montgomery, Ala., that the service had adopted Microsoft NT and Exchange as its DMS
standards.


The service’s Configuration Control Board, which met in May 1997 and amended the
service’s Joint Technical Architecture, decided to standardize on Exchange.


Air Force commands and bases are free to use any DMS-certified user agent that fits
their needs.


The catch, however, is that any command or base that chooses products other than
Exchange—such as Lotus Notes, Xtended Mail from Enterprise Solutions Limited Ltd. of
Westlake Village, Calif., or Novell Inc.’s GroupWise—will not receive
centralized financing and support from the Air Force.


DMS prime contractor Lockheed Martin brought Microsoft, Lotus and ESL to the DMS
contract in 1995 as subcontractors to supply messaging software.


Novell is a DMS Track 2 supplier. But all four vendors have their user agents on the
Joint Interoperability Test Center’s register of DMS-compliant products that have
passed security and performance tests. 

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