Navy network sails on ATM

Navy network sails on ATM

Warfare center in Port Hueneme gains speed in switching from FDDI

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

At the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Port Hueneme, Calif., a fast network used by weapons engineers is changing from Fiber Distributed Data Interface to an asynchronous transfer mode architecture.

The old routed network, based on hardware from Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., 'did not provide us with all the throughput we needed,' said Jim Rieder, a Navy systems analyst at Port Hueneme. 'We're going with an Alcatel switched network over ATM.'

The new network hardware from Alcatel Corp. of Calabasas, Calif., includes six OmniSwitch nine-slot switches in a cross-meshed topology connected by 155-Mbps OC-3 lines. On the backbone, more than a dozen OmniSwitch/Routers do Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching. In addition, 24-port OmniStack switches take switched Ethernet and Fast Ethernet to the desktops and also supply ATM and Gigabit Ethernet uplinks.

App intensive


Alcatel's management processing software sets templates for policy-based network management which, under ATM, will save NSWC about 1,000 staff hours per year, officials say.


Rieder said the network's 3,000 users include weapons designers who run high-end engineering applications and desktop video over the switched 10/100-Mbps connections.

The first of the new switches went in about 18 months ago, and the ATM backbone began to grow about five months ago.

'We still have some of our Cisco equipment pushed all the way to the edge,' Rieder said.

The 155-Mbps connections between the core switches eventually will be upgraded to 622-Mbps OC-12. 'As you move more of the edge to OC-3, you begin to saturate the system,' he said. 'The price [difference] really isn't that bad.'

Rieder said he decided to go with ATM on the backbone rather than Gigabit Ethernet because he is more familiar with ATM.

'Once you learn it and keep up with it, it's pretty easy to manage,' he said.

Tom Hance, Alcatel's western manager for the Navy and the Marine Corps, said the company's management processing software sets up templates for policy-based networking. The lower network management overhead will save Port Hueneme an estimated 1,000 staff hours a year, Hance said.

The OmniSwitch/Routers provide authentication security based on users rather than devices. Users can log in from anywhere with a name and a password. They are assigned to secure groups or subnets, and they can access only approved resources.

The new network carries sensitive but not classified data. 'Right now we have two separate networks, and it's more cost-effective,' Rieder said.

Eventually, however, he intends to transmit classified traffic over the ATM backbone using virtual LANs. 'You can do that as long as you keep all the classified data running over the backbone in black,' he said.

The black, or encrypted traffic, is decrypted only at the final end point.

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