Joint Forces: with NMCI from the start

Navy officials are working with the Joint Forces Command to speed up its two-year timeline for merging 8,000 desktop systems into the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. They said the command, based in Norfolk, Va., has always been counted as part of the massive cutover schedule.

Because the Navy has provided information technology support to both the Joint Forces Command and the Pacific Command, those seats were part of the NMCI proposal from the beginning, said Capt. Chris Christopher, staff director of the NMCI Office.

'It was always intended that they'd do this,' he said today.

'The initial plan at a high level was to migrate Joint Force Command,' said Brig. Gen. Walter Jones, the command's CIO and director of command, control, communications and computer systems. But that was on a conceptual level until January, when the commander approved a plan to consolidate the command's own networks and applications before jumping to NMCI by fiscal 2005'a process agreed upon by Navy officials.

'Anything more that's done up front, the easier the execution is,' Christopher said. 'It's been back and forth with discussions on this. They wanted to do their due diligence. They decided this was the right thing'They're trying to get their arms around the whole problem.'

Jones said about 10 seats at the command's Washington liaison office at the Pentagon have migrated to NMCI. At the Pacific Command, the 2,500 seats that have been under assumption of responsibility by prime contractor EDS Corp. are being cut over.

Christopher said the Navy has given its nod to a fiscal 2005 deadline, but 'we're working with them to bring them closer to us' before that date, to avoid more of the delays that have been plaguing the legacy-laden NMCI rollover since its start in 2000.

'We've had discussions,' Jones confirmed. 'But we have a much more realistic view of the complexity of work that we have to do.'

Calling the 2005 time frame both aggressive and rational, Jones estimated there are 250 legacy applications on the command's classified networks and at least another 250 on unclassified networks. The exact number remains in the discovery stage, he said.

'We need to understand what we have out there,' he said, explaining the decision to consolidate first, migrate second. 'It's a commonsense approach' as opposed to turning everything over to NMCI, which he said 'would be much more complicated and difficult.'

After the Navy's experience in deleting the bulk of its 100,000 legacy apps, Christopher said, Joint Forces Command is hardly starting from scratch. 'I should think, given their size, [2005] is realistic for them.'

As of yesterday, EDS had assumed responsibility for 237,921 seats and has cut over another 79,412.

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