NMCI to open software test center
- By Dawn S. Onley
- Jun 06, 2004
'We're buying seat services from EDS. The contract didn't intend for EDS to be the sole source for IT in the Navy.'
' Navy Capt. Chris Christopher
The Navy-Marine Corps Intranet program office will open a center later this month to test software applications for compatibility with the Navy's enterprise portal.
The NMCI Product Evaluation Center will let vendors test their products on the NMCI portal, which runs under Microsoft Windows 2000.
'Compatibility is a very limited set of things,' said Capt. Chris Christopher, deputy director for future operations, communications and business initiatives for the NMCI program office. 'Do you use protocols that we prohibit? If we were to get this and put it on NMCI, will it work?'
NMCI officials plan to unveil a more extensive business framework of how the center will operate at the 2004 NMCI Industry Symposium in New Orleans, June 20-23. The center will be housed at the Space and Naval Warfare IT Center in New Orleans.
'What we're talking about is a more streamlined communications conduit for the Department of the Navy and the IT industry,' Christopher said.
If an app is found to be compatible with the enterprise voice, video and data network, NMCI officials can consider buying it.Seal of approval
'The acquisition piece of it is an entirely different piece. We're just a testing vehicle to determine whether we think it will work. This is sort of thinking of it as a Good Housekeeping seal of approval,' he said.
EDS Corp. is the prime contractor for the NMCI portal. But Christopher said the Navy always needs new applications and wants to hear directly from other vendors.
The infrastructure of the NMCI portal belongs to EDS, he said, but the Navy wants to diversify the applications running on the portal. And Navy brass thinks vendors are more likely to communicate directly with the Navy, as opposed to EDS, which may be a business competitor.
'We're buying seat services from EDS. The contract didn't intend for EDS to be the sole source for IT in the Navy,' Christopher said, noting that some vendors held this misconception. The Navy is hoping to establish relationships with other vendors to bolster its network.
Currently, he said, the process for obtaining apps is chaotic and inefficient. The Navy wants to make it more coherent and effective.
This is a departure from the way the government normally does business with any kind of industry, not just IT, he said. 'We're really trying to change the paradigm.'
The Navy established the Product Evaluation Center to deal with numerous IT companies that have expressed an interest in developing applications to run on the portal.
'We thought it was good to have a government place that they could come to, a storefront for testing. We wanted to be the custodian of the software that is coming in,' Christopher said.
The NMCI Program Office will present details on the center during the symposium.
The Navy also wants to contract with application service providers on NMCI. And the network's program office is considering taking a census of Navy networks, similar to the frequent surveys Navy managers perform to get an accurate count of legacy applications.
Christopher said the NMCI office is acquiring tools that will let officials survey the Navy's network infrastructure.
Navy officials, for example, don't have a grasp of how many printers or servers they own.
'Every time we go someplace and deliberately count servers we get higher numbers than we thought we had. One place thought they had 17 servers and had more than 100,' Christopher said. 'NMCI will finally enable us to manage all these things.'