AF bases take on net control

AF bases take on net control

The Air Force Materiel Command has established common platforms for its network control centers, CIO Debra Haley says.

Materiel Command creates centers to improve interoperability and security

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO'Faced with excessive support costs for a mishmash of systems at 14 bases, the Air Force Materiel Command is establishing centralized network control centers through a 1-year-old initiative.

'Incompatibilities were causing us to spin our wheels,' said Capt. Greg Patterson, program manager for Wright-Patterson's centralized network control center. 'The standardization that NCCs give you makes troubleshooting easier.'

AFMC officials began establishing NCCs in December 1998 in accord with Air Force Instruction 33-115 on network management, and they plan to complete the final center in June, Patterson said.

'What we've just done'consolidate networks on bases'is exactly the opposite of what the Navy wants to do' with its Navy-Marine Corps Intranet procurement, said Debra Haley, AFMC's chief information officer.

The intranet could create more complexity because Navy officials are letting vendors propose non-Defense Information Systems Network systems for long-haul communications, but NCCs should simplify matters for AFMC, Haley said.

She opposes developing more government off-the-shelf interfaces to create more secure networks. 'Anytime you develop an interface, you build up a sustainment cost.'

Central casting

Troubleshooting is easier now that network control centers are being established at 14 bases, Air Force Capt. Greg Patterson says.

Migrating from 23 e-mail systems to one'Microsoft Exchange'and moving forward with site licenses for IBM Tivoli for desktop management, Oracle Corp. relational database management system products, and the Sniffer intrusion detection tool from Network Associates Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., have helped AFMC officials establish common platforms for NCCs, Haley said.

They use Tivoli, for example, for remote-control capabilities and electronic software distribution, Patterson said. The command also uses help desk software from Remedy Corp. of Mountain View, Calif.

NCCs also fit in well with the Expeditionary Air Force initiative, which would let the Air Force deploy fewer personnel by establishing more interoperable, robust and secure networks that could be accessed by users anywhere, Haley said.

Communications squadrons manage NCCs because 'they understand what needs to be done' at each base, Patterson said. 'Before, organizations just relied on communications squadrons for access to outside [telephone] lines.' Under the previous system, many personnel provided help desk support as a secondary task, he said. The staffs at some bases' NCCs have mostly military personnel, while at others the staffs are made up almost entirely of civilians and contractors, he said.

As of Dec. 1, AFMC officials had also closed down thousands of direct T1 and dial-up connections to the Internet and were down to 100 such connections. That has helped NCCs better manage IP addresses and control base entry and exit points, Haley said.

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