Defense IT

CANES to consolidate shipboard networks

As the Navy prepares to rework its ashore networks with the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN), a parallel effort is under way to streamline the networks on Navy ships.

The Consolidated Afloat Network and Enterprise Services (CANES) program is two broad procurements linked by a vision of integrated command, control, communications, computer and intelligence capabilities (C4I), said Robert Wolborsky, head of the Navy tactical networks program office at the Program Executive Office for C4I in San Diego.

The first procurement, for which a final request for proposals was expected to be released by the end of January, will be for equipment consolidating hardware terminals to support multiple networks, including an Integrated Shipboard Network System, Sensitive Compartmented Information networks, and Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System Maritime.

The second, less-developed procurement will be for a service-oriented architecture that supports C4I capabilities, with a draft RFP anticipated during spring 2009.

SOA is a software environment that seeks to create widespread interoperability through the use of standard interfaces. With SOA, programmers usually can avoid duplicating software functions because they can tap existing programs to supply or transform data.

Hardware acquisition and SOA creation belong together under the CANES umbrella because even though SOA theoretically is platform independent, “you don’t want to develop your software environment in isolation of your hardware, completely,” Wolborsky said.

Even in the most connected environment, implementing SOA is a challenge. Aboard Navy ships, where signals can be disrupted and bandwidth can be low, SOA is an even bigger challenge. In the end, services that could safely reside remotely in a well-connected environment will require onboard implementation on every naval ship.

The Navy must decide which services are critical to have, even in a completely disconnected environment, versus services that ships can do without, Wolborsky said.

The service isn’t waiting for CANES to start down the SOA path, he said.

“We’re working with the application domain today” and working to identify a basic set of core services.

The Navy plans on fielding a pilot afloat program in the USS Abraham strike group this spring, he added.

The program will virtualize C4I and surveillance programs onto an enterprise infrastructure.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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