Navy raising CANES in system migration

The Navy is moving to a new information technology environment called the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services, or CANES.

CANES is inspired by the service-oriented architectures being implemented by the military and private industry. But the Navy intends to accept a greater level of risk while migrating to its new environment, Rear Adm. Kenneth Deutsch, director of warfare integration at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, told government and industry representatives in Washington last month.

SOAs deploy loosely coupled, reusable application components to create new IT capabilities. This replaces traditional integration architectures, which require point-to-point interfaces between networks and systems.

CANES seeks to solve the same problem, Deutsch said. 'If I showed you a complete interface diagram, it would be a total black screen.'

The migration to CANES will differ from the typical SOA deployment in that the Navy will be relying less on its older capabilities while making the transition. Instead, it will seek to rapidly insert new capabilities while it is implementing its new architecture.

'What we are proposing increases risk in the near term,' Deutsch said. 'We are willing to accept that risk if it means providing more capability to the fleet. We are not necessarily risk-averse in this case.'

He added that the current way the Navy procures and installs systems is unaffordable. 'Over a 14-year period, we would have to pay out $2.6 billion just to maintain current capabilities,' he said. 'This is a function of how we procure, acquire and test systems. That is a shipwreck.'

'CANES is very much moving forward,' said Stacy Cummings, director of strategic planning at the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence. 'We are proceeding using existing programs of record and funding sources.'

She added that the main problems are not technical issues but 'on the acquisition and business side.'

Deutsch agreed that governance is the main challenge. 'How do I do it quickly, and how do I afford to do it if I have a flat-line budget?'

The new program seeks to consolidate onboard networks to no more than two or three, Deutsch said. 'We want the minimum required to host applications and to conduct our business, which is war.'

Rapid capabilities insertion lies outside the normal acquisition process, Deutsch said, 'but it is authorized by DOD Acquisition Directive 5000. Without it we could not keep up with threats.'

Deutsch expects full support for CANES from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in Congress. 'They always like new business practices that drive out waste on the Hill,' he said.

Deutsch said he expected to see rapid progress beginning in 2010 and a full-blown common-computing environment in place by 2011.

About the Author

Peter Buxbaum is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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