Approval of DMS Version 2.1 means full rollout throughout DOD, manager says

Approval of DMS Version 2.1 means full rollout throughout DOD, manager says

By Mark A. Kellner
Special to GCN

By the end of this month, the Defense Department's Joint Information Technology Command will approve Version 2.1 of the Defense Message System, program officials said. The approval will kick off a widespread rollout throughout DOD, according to those close to the 4-year-old project.

DMS allows users to send and receive secure e-mail. It relies on the Fortezza authentication system, which requires a PC Card containing a 56-bit key based on the Data Encryption Standard method. JITC is testing Version 2.1.

'It's a goal to have the vast majority of people off of AUTODIN by the end of the year,' said George Jakabcin, national account manager for DMS at prime contractor Lockheed Martin Corp.

Lockheed is integrating DMS components from Microsoft Corp., Lotus Development Corp. and Enterprise Solutions Ltd. of Westlake Village, Calif.

The new software replaces Version 2.0 with later versions of e-mail client software. 'We would expect to see some pretty rapid migration once the green light is given,' Jakabcin said.

AUTODIN is the military's 26-year-old secure digital communication system.

In some cases, the transition to DMS will be transparent to users, Jakabcin said. The Air Force, for example, has DMS-enabled servers throughout its mail network so users will be able to send and receive DMS messages as soon as the rollout is complete.

Not all DMS users will require the full Fortezza security for their e-mail. Most will rely on security protocols found in the e-mail client and server software.

All the Air Force e-mail servers are DMS servers, Jakabcin said. 'When they migrate any, some or all users from a commercial e-mail product to DMS, they are very well-positioned to do that,' he said.

For military users, the shift from AUTODIN to DMS represents more than merely changing servers and mail formats. Maj. John Ellis, the Army's project officer for tactical DMS at Fort Monmouth, N.J., said the big shift will be in abandoning intermediaries for classified messages, which will arrive in the same e-mail basket as other items.

Switched thinking

'The big difference is the philosophy behind DMS,' Ellis said. 'It's writer-to-reader messaging that doesn't go through any other hands.'

Instead of an AUTODIN message that would go through several users and generate some three pages of headers, Ellis said, the DMS message would be readable by users with the Fortezza key.

In addition, the new system will offer even greater authentication of messages than AUTODIN, he said.

'With DMS you know it was delivered or not, [you get] a positive feedback mechanism,' he said.

'With standard commercial e-mail, that's not the case. Users can digitally sign the message and recipients can verify who the originator was. When the boss says take the hill, I know he said it. ' I can prove it's his Fortezza card and his digital signature,' Ellis said.

He looks forward to the time when he can 'put DMS on the battlefield. It is conceivable on a future battlefield where the infrastructure will support it to have individual messages go to the soldier in fighting positions,' he said.

Ellis said battlefield deployment of DMS would come after the command and control installation.

'You've got to crawl before you can walk and run,' he said.

Along with installing DMS for 400,000 military users from its current 10,000, Jakabcin said, the big effort in DMS sales is to garner more users overall for either Microsoft Exchange and Outlook software or Lotus Domino and Notes.

The different software appeals to different military organizations, and the vendors handle those sales.

Tim Dioquino, DMS product manager for Microsoft Federal Systems in Washington, said his company has about 80 percent of the high-assurance market.

But Lotus is still in the running for more DMS business, said Keith Attenborough, product manager for DMS at Lotus' communications product division.

Lotus has won large orders from organizations in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, he said.

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