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Intranet on the Move

June 15, 2008
by Maryann Lawlor
E-mail About the Author

U.S. sailors and Marines are accustomed to sitting down in front of their computers and tapping into the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI). But recently Naval Network Warfare Command (NETWARCOM) personnel and EDS contractors practiced moving command and control (C2) of the intranet quickly so they are prepared to relocate to safe ground when a natural disaster such as a hurricane is imminent.

The two-day continuity-of-operations drill involved maintaining the ability to monitor the intranet while EDS’ Enterprise Network Operations Support Center (ENOSC) and the U.S. government’s Global Network Operations Center (GNOC) move from one location to another location within the Norfolk, Virginia, region. At an appointed time, each six-person shift at the ENOSC evacuated their base site and headed to an area at the Little Creek Amphibious Base, then reconstituted the centers. During the 90 minutes of the move, ENOSC responsibilities were transferred to EDS’ Pacific Theater Battle Watch; NETWARCOM retained control of the GNOC.

Greg Burke, director, NetworkOperationsCenter services for NMCI, EDS, explains that the exercise confirms that network C2 is available from any location. The activity ensures that intranet users can continue to access tools and capabilities from the network even when the ENOSC is in transit to another location prior to an emergency and that the center can be reconstituted in the new location without incident, he adds.

Although the emergency situation that is the cause for the move is fabricated for the exercise, the network is not—it is control of the actual intranet that shifts. Burke says that during the recent exercise, none of the NMCI’s more than 700,000 users was aware of the control transfers. This is the exact goal the entire NMCI team wishes to achieve, he notes.

Clear communications is crucial to ensuring a move like this runs smoothly, Burke says. Everything from what equipment is being packed to where everyone will sit once they arrive at the satellite site needs to be arranged in advance, he explains. Even the smallest details need attention, including making sure that the guards at the gate allow the arriving team on base.

Secretary of the Navy Dr. Donald C. Winter directed that continuity-of-operations exercises take place on a regular basis: twice a year for the GNOC and four times a year for the ENOSC. While the event this spring was announced, Burke reveals that NMCI C2 watch standers will not be notified when the next one is about to occur.

The next steps for both EDS and Navy personnel will be to address problems identified during the exercise—including configuration issues—and continue to practice the evacuation drill. “This is a memory muscle exercise,” Burke says.