Pentagon sets DMS deadline

Pentagon sets DMS deadline

Joint Chiefs demand cutover by Sept. 30

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

Defense Department organizations now have until Sept. 30 to move users to the Defense Message System, the Joint Chiefs of Staff decided last month.

Although that deadline is less than 10 months away, it is a reprieve of sorts for the department's DMS program offices. The original deadline to migrate from AUTODIN to DMS was Dec. 31 of last year, but the Joint Chiefs postponed that because the services were not going to meet it. To get the transition back on track, the Joint Chiefs have set a new rollout schedule for the messaging system.

The deadline does not affect all messaging traffic. Some special items'such as emergency alerts and high-level secure messages'will not use DMS until 2002 or 2003. But the Joint Chiefs expect all general messaging to travel via DMS by the fall.

Fifty percent of AUTODIN users at each service and DOD agency must move to DMS by May 15; 75 percent must migrate by the end of June. To make sure DOD organizations comply, the department will shut down AUTODIN for general message traffic by October, said Col. Robert Raiford, the Army's DMS program manager at Fort Monmouth, N.J.

The Joint Chiefs adopted the interim milestones based on a December recommendation of the Military Communications Electronics Board.

The new schedule leaves the services scrambling to set their own new migration plans.

Those in charge

At the Air Force, the Standard Systems Group at the Gunter Annex of Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., is managing the service's migration to DMS. At the Army, the Standard Army Management Information Systems Program Executive Office is the DMS lead agency.

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego is the program manager for the Navy DMS effort, and the Marine Corps Systems Command is conducting the Corps' DMS rollout.

The services are at various stages in their migration to DMS. They all have installed most of the hardware required for the messaging infrastructure and have begun fielding client software to end users. But the geographical disbursement of users makes managing the cutover within tight deadlines a challenge, leaving users in some remote locations barely into the deployment process.

To meet the new deadlines, Raiford's team quickly revamped its DMS cutover plan based on a directive from Lt. Gen. William Campbell, the service's director of information systems for command, control, communications and computers.

All Army users must abandon AUTODIN by June 30, Raiford said.

But 8,091 users deemed crucial to Army support services must act more quickly; Campbell has given them until Feb. 15 to cut over to DMS, he said.

The Army is in fair shape, Raiford said. It has set up about 97 percent of the server infrastructure needed to handle DMS servicewide, and about 43 percent of users have DMS client software, he said.

Although Raiford's organization runs a DMS help desk and manages the messaging system infrastructure for the service, the directorates of information management on each Army base, post, camp and station migrate individual users to the system, he said.

Too costly

The hard push is driven by cost, Raiford said. 'The critical thing we have to do is shut down AUTODIN. It costs a lot of money and doesn't meet our needs,' he said.

Plus, AUTODIN is more complicated than DMS, Raiford said. With AUTODIN, the department must manage not only the incoming and outgoing message traffic but also a series of message centers that relay the data as it winds its way from senders to recipients, he said.

'The organization and recipient now are the only ones with the responsibility' to verify that messages go through, because DMS is a writer-to-reader system, Raiford said.


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