Campbell: Army won't limit product choices







The Army’s chief information officer wants it clear that the service will
not standardize on specific products, such as Microsoft Exchange, for messaging and other
applications.


“All products have a future in the Army,” said Lt. Gen. William Campbell,
director of information systems for command, control, communications and computers.
“We don’t standardize on products; we standardize on standards. That’s the
driver.”


The Defense Department’s Joint Technical Architecture and the Joint Technical
Architecture for the Army set forth the mandated technical standards as well as the
migrating standards, in tandem with commercial technology developments, Campbell said.


“The mandatory standards are the standards we build to—the TCP/IP protocol
stack, the Simple Network Management Protocol, 802.3 Ethernet—well-established
standards that are pretty stable,” he said.


Migrating standards, such as IP Version 6 and SNMP 3.0, are “worth looking at, but
the standards bodies have not adopted them yet, and they haven’t been broadly adopted
commercially,” the three-star general said. When IPv6 attains official status for the
Internet, “we’ll move it from a migrating standard to a mandatory
standard.”


Products from software vendors such as Microsoft Corp., Netscape Communications Corp.
and Oracle Corp. “all have their own proprietary designs and algorithms. The nexus to
these applications is TCP/IP. They all use it to communicate,” he said. “You can
call a telephone in Russia because the information technology architecture for telephones
has been adopted throughout the world. It’s the adoption of a common set of protocols
that guarantees interoperability.”


“Do Unix computers have a place in the Army? Of course. Does Microsoft software
have a future in the Army? Of course. Posix is an accepted standard, and Unix is
Posix-compliant,” Campbell said.


But the Army’s Unix appetite has waned during the last few years as officials
decided not to redraft the Army Workstations contract following Sun Microsystems
Inc.’s successful protest. The Army Small Computer Program at Fort Monmouth, N.J.,
decided instead to buy Unix products through NASA’s Scientific and Engineering
Workstation Procurement II contracts.


Campbell said the Army has learned from industry to move from supplies-based to
transportation-based logistics, emulating companies such as Home Depot and WalMart.  


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