Before the Navy buys it, these guys test it

Before the Navy buys it, these guys test it

The Army's Theater High Altitude Area Defense system can defeat high-velocity ballistic missiles at higher altitudes and longer ranges than is possible with the Partiot System. See story, Page 8.

By Susan M. Menke

GCN Staff

When it comes to measuring multisystem relationships, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, S.C., holds the stopwatch.

Established in 1994, the Navy center grew out of 'a conscious decision to test before purchasing equipment for our own use,' said Nelson Ard, deputy for corporate information management systems and year 2000 coordinator.

The SPAWAR center has since moved on to testing every kind of hardware and software in the seven-layer Open Systems Interconnection model, from raw communications channels up to user
applications, said John Andrews, an engineer in the Design Integration Branch.

Engineers at the systems center use hardware bit generators and software application simulators to test interoperability of equipment for such broad-ranging initiatives as the Navy's Information Technology for the 21st Century and the Defense Information Infrastructure's Common Operating Environment.

The center also has 'helped tie this to that and report out measurements' for the Navy's end-to-end year 2000 tests, Ard said.

Current projects include evaluating asynchronous transfer mode vs. Gigabit Ethernet networks, testing the next-generation TCP/IP Version 6 protocol suite, and studying metropolitan area and virtual private networking as well as IP services such as multicasting.

The center's test methodology sets certain conditions, Ard said:

' Products must be mature enough for use in a mission-critical application.

' They must support the current installed mix of products and services as well as present an evolutionary path to new, target technologies.

' They must be framed as part of a test bed for evaluation against a specific requirement, a known deficiency or the need for a new capability.

SPAWAR's John Andrews, left, Mike Ratledge and David Johnson benchmark performance of network equipment in the systems center at Charleston, S.C.

'We install candidate equipment and systems in a laboratory model of the intended environment' to force the interdependencies to show up, Ard said. 'It's the only way you can do serious testing. We pride ourselves at being fairly adept in making productivity systems work well with stovepipe systems.'

For the IPv6 tests, project engineer Michael Brig said, the center 'created a modest test bed network and connected to the 6bone,' a worldwide trial implementation of the Next Generation Internet [GCN, April 5, Page 20].

The tests use IPv6 protocol analyzers, a Cisco 3640 router from Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., running a beta version of Cisco's IPv6-ready Internetwork Operating System, and a prototype Microsoft Corp. IPv6 stack under Windows NT 4.0.

Brig said the center enhanced Microsoft Internet Explorer to work with IPv6 and to browse the Internet and the 6bone test bed. The tests evaluate how well IPv6 packets can tunnel their way through the existing Internet, which is based on IP Version 4, vs. dual stacking of the old with the new protocols.

The IPv6 transition is important not only for the NGI but also because IPv4 address space and domain names are running short except in the United States, which reserved large blocks of Internet addresses in the early days of the Defense Department's Arpanet, Brig said.

Not another Y2K

Last month, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority began delegating the first blocks of IPv6 addresses to regional Internet providers, and the government will now have to decide about obtaining enough address space for its use. Complicating the IPv6 transition, Brig said, is its resemblance to the year 2000 situation. It will require upgrades to many software applications, including current network management platforms.

The Internet's Domain Name System has been upgraded for IPv6 addressing, Brig added, and the center has found that the IP address resolution works well.

The Charleston center, in cooperation with the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, will host an IPv6 conference Oct. 19 and 20, at which DOD organizations and vendors can tie into the 6bone and try out their equipment and software.


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