Navy adds structure to networks

The Navy is rapidly transforming its communications systems, says Rear Adm. Patrick Brady, SPAWAR commander.

Throughout the military, networks have grown almost at random, resulting in incompatible systems that are difficult to maintain. The Navy is moving to common networks, moving at speeds that many didn’t feel would happen.

Rear Adm. Patrick Brady, commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, told attendees Jan. 25 at AFCEA West 2012 that the Navy is transforming its communications systems. This transition is occurring rapidly.

Brady’s recounted a request made in 2010 to add security to networks used by the 10th Fleet. He was told by many that this would be accomplished only through acquisitions, which would take until 2013. However, that timeframe was not deemed acceptable.

“We put together a task force and started by giving some ships software and some ships hardware. We were able to complete the rollout in 2011. To prepare for the future, instead of looking at things on a ship by ship basis, we’re looking at classes of ships,” Brady said.

There are also a number of on-shore changeovers. One major transition is the drive for data center consolidation. Brady’s convinced that this consolidation will occur in part because it’s expected to dramatically reduce the cost of providing information technology throughout the Navy’s far reaches.

“Everyone asks why we will have success now when everyone’s been saying they want to do this for years. What’s different now is that a drumbeat has been established. It goes up the chain of command to very high levels. When there are problems, they can now be resolved very quickly,” Brady said.

A central aspect of the data center consolidation is to reduce the number of operating systems and network architectures that must be maintained. Now that the Navy is moving towards standards, managers plan to ensure that new networks adhere to existing plans.

“We need to add rigor and support to our authority. We need technical authority. Not everyone should be setting up their own network,” Brady said.

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