SPAWAR putting in place building blocks of a unified IT network

As the Navy migrates to a future net-centric enterprise, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) has been charged with putting in place the building blocks for a unified, global network that converge some large-scale IT integration and development efforts that the command has underway.

As the Navy migrates to a future net-centric enterprise, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) has been charged with putting in place the building blocks for a unified, global network that converge some large-scale IT integration and development efforts that the command has underway.

Traditionally, the Navy has separated shore-based and shipboard networks, resulting in a sub-optimized networking environment. The Navy’s vision is to create a highly secure and reliable enterprise-wide voice, video and data network environment that provides ubiquitous access to data, services and applications from anywhere in the world.

SPAWAR’s 2012-2016 strategic plan calls for the eventual migration of the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) and Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) into a global warfighting system based on a future Navy computing environment.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, testified in February before the House Armed Services Committee that CANES and NGEN support the development of a common operational picture of the battlespace and cyberspace that will result in superior command and control capabilities and better protection of Navy ships and networks from enemy attack.

SPAWAR at the Center

Dubbed the Navy’s “information dominance systems command,” SPAWAR designs, develops and deploys the service’s advanced communications and information capabilities. With more than 8,900 active-duty military and civil service professionals around the globe, SPAWAR is at the epicenter of research, engineering, acquisition and support services for the Navy, delivering a portfolio of command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) capabilities to the fleet.

Toward that end, SPAWAR in October 2011 established the Fleet Readiness Directorate (FRD), which serves as a focal point, providing increased emphasis on C4I installations and in-service sustainment support for the fleet's information dominance systems. This SPAWAR “one-stop” shop provides a single point of entry to SPAWAR’s program executive offices (PEOs) for all matters relating to installation, sustainment and C4I readiness.

Headquartered in San Diego, SPAWAR—with its Atlantic and Pacific system centers and three PEOs (C4I, Enterprise Information Systems, and Space Systems)—is the Navy’s single technical authority for the service’s information dominance systems. The command is also the Navy's single authority for IT procurement approval, a move that is designed to achieve greater economies of scale and better support programming, planning and budgeting in accordance with an October 2011 Department of Navy (DON) IT Expenditure Approval Authorities memorandum.

As a result, SPAWAR is a central player in the DON's IT/Cyberspace Efficiency Initiatives and Realignment Tasking mandate to reduce the department’s IT budget by 25 percent. While the Navy is striving for a scalable, open-architecture computing and communications environment that facilitates rapid information sharing both ashore and afloat, the service has also adopted open architectures as a way to reduce the rising cost of naval warfare systems and platforms and to increase the capabilities of its systems.

“We are facing austere financial realities, and with that we need to look at areas where we can fundamentally change the way we do business,” said SPAWAR commander Rear Adm. Patrick Brady. “We are implementing rigorous oversight of spending at the enterprise level, using common processes throughout the Navy, increasing accountability for all money decisions and mapping our money to support larger Navy priorities.”

Smaller IT Footprint

According to SPAWAR’s 2012-2016 strategic plan, the command will take advantage of emerging technologies to consolidate and reduce the Navy’s IT footprint in “areas from energy consumption to physical size while maintaining or improving operational capability.”

On land, SPAWAR is playing a key role in the Navy-wide data center consolidation effort with the move to three regional data center sites in Charleston, S.C., New Orleans and San Diego. At sea, CANES is the Navy’s afloat strategy for reducing server footprints and migrating existing shipboard hardware into a centralized, managed process. With plans to deploy CANES on more than 180 ships, as well as on submarines and maritime operations centers by 2020, the Navy program calls for the consolidation and enhancement of five existing legacy networks and the implementation of a single support framework for about 40 C4I applications that require dedicated infrastructure to operate.

Currently, the naval networking environment comprises more than 500 legacy networks that are typically dependent on specific hardware and software. The Navy is pushing for a reduction in legacy networks, with the goal of eliminating or consolidating legacy networks into enterprise-wide networks.

In February, Northrop Grumman was awarded a CANES production and limited deployment phase contract worth $638 million to produce the initial shipsets for installation. For its CANES solution, the company used the Modular Open Systems Approach-Competitive process to “achieve the lifecycle benefits of open-systems architecture and commercial off-the-shelf components and software.”

Managed by SPAWAR’s PEO C4I, CANES has a network topology that represents the service’s transition to virtualization, service oriented architecture (SOA) and cloud computing. The Navy’s SOA strategy consists of employing enterprise-level services that provide reusable capabilities via fixed and shore-based networks, forward-deployed afloat networks and forward-edge networks.

Big shoes on land

Ashore, NGEN will include hosted virtual desktop seats and cloud-like solutions. NGEN, which replaces the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), represents the next step in the evolution of the DON’s enterprise network, providing a secure, standardized, end-to-end, shore-based IT capability for voice, video and data communications.

NGEN has big shoes to fill. NMCI currently connects more than 800,000 users utilizing 384,000 workstations at more than 3,000 shore-based locations throughout the mainland United States, Hawaii and Japan. Not only is NMCI the largest DOD enterprise network, it is also the largest corporate intranet in the world, second only to the Internet itself.

While NGEN will provide all of the same services that are available under NMCI, NGEN’s acquisition approach is quite different than NMCI, which is a contractor-owned network. NGEN will be a government-owned and government-operated solution, with vendor support for the Marine Corps that ultimately will give the Navy greater visibility of its network enterprise services and cost information.

Under NGEN, network services will be divided into separate segments, enabling periodic competition that will decrease costs, along with technological innovation and providing for more flexible and adaptable IT network services. NGEN will have two contract awards, one for transport services and one for enterprise services. Together, the estimated value of these services is between $4.5 billion and $5.4 billion. Transport and enterprise services proposals were due August 8.

NGEN falls under SPAWAR’s PEO for Enterprise Information Systems, which oversees a portfolio of enterprisewide IT programs for sailors at sea, Marines in the field and their support systems.

An NGEN award is expected by February 2013. The Marine Corps transition to NGEN is to be completed by May 2013. The transition of Navy services to NGEN is slated for April 2014.