Tight-lipped Justice starts hardware, software rollout of JCON II

Justice wants to position
itself to
take advantage of new technologies, deputy CIO Mark Boster says.





The Justice Department has brought up the first 700 PCs and 12 servers on
the new Justice Consolidated Office Automation Network, but Justice officials are saying
little else about the replacement for current office automation systems.


Mark Boster, deputy chief information officer for Justice, cited security concerns as
the reason he was unwilling to describe in any detail the commercial products or the way
they fit together in the new architecture, which Justice officials call JCON II.


Hacker break-ins to Justice Web sites are still fresh memories, according to industry
analysts.


“The risk would be too much data going across that infrastructure that [Justice]
needs to protect,” said Robert Deller, president of the research company Market
Access International Inc. of Chevy Chase, Md.


The JCON II network, which runs Microsoft Windows NT Server, is built around Compaq
ProLiant 3000 and 6500 servers. End users have 166-MHz Pentiums from various makers. The
office automation software is Microsoft Outlook e-mail and Corel WordPerfect Suite.


“Beyond that, I don’t want to go into more detail,” Boster said.
“The challenges were to make it as mainstream as we possibly could, with as little
deviation as possible from standard practices.”


At the same time, the department wants to position itself to take advantage of new
technologies and products, Boster said.


Perhaps the biggest challenge, according to Justice officials, is retraining users
accustomed to 10-year-old technology.


“We have executives who are working 50 to 60 hours a week as it is. We’re
lucky if we can get them to training for a day,” said Michael Duffy, the JCON II
technical program manager.


The rollout, starting in the Justice Management Division, is proceeding on schedule to
bring 30 people a night, 120 people a week, onto the new architecture, Duffy said.


“There’s usually one day when e-mail service can be disrupted, depending on
how the address books synchronize across the department,” he said.


“There are some major rewards after Justice gets this thing done,” said Roy
Scales, senior program director for Wang Government Services Inc., one of the two prime
contractors awarded blanket purchasing agreements to install and support the JCON II
architecture.


Scales declined to describe the JCON II architecture but said it is “a low-risk
effort and well-planned.”


The department scrapped future expansion of the JCON I architecture, a Unix network
that specified Novell GroupWise messaging running under SunSoft Solaris.


All new task orders under the JCON I contract, which Justice awarded in 1996 to GTE
Government Systems Corp. of Chantilly, Va., are for Windows NT on Intel servers, said Joe
Matusic, former program manager for GTE’s JCON contract.


“We have ongoing task orders in excess of double-digit millions this year,”
he said.


Engineering services will be a large component of the JCON II contracts for prime
contractors Wang and the Digital Equipment division of Compaq Computer Corp.


“When we have attorneys getting ready to file briefs, we’ve got to assure
them access to information,” Boster said. “We’ve got to assure that a
server going down doesn’t stop or prevent them from filing on time with the
court.”


But Justice officials recently decided that the department would not set up a backup
network for JCON (see story, Page 16).


Instead, users would use JCON II services via another office’s servers because
Justice never expects JCON II to come down departmentwide.

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