Tuesday, March 21, 2006

NMCI - The Non-Mission Capable Internet

Re(1): 'Comments on NMCI', The Fourth Rail, Bill Roggio

Bill Roggio at the Fourth Rail is seeking feedback on the Non-Mission Capable Network (NMCI). Because I very much respect Mr. Roggio and thoroughly enjoy his site I responded in his comment section with:

NMCI - Non Mission Capable Internet

As far as using the network day to day with general COTS applications such as Microsoft Word/Excel/Access/Outlook there is no problem. Additionally, trouble calls on standard software and hardware seem good to go...

Now for the however...

If you want to build an information technology system to permit large entities to communicate effectively you are out of luck. For example, as we cut over to NMCI we had to take down our secure website that permitted recruiters to reach into recruit training to review how their pool (those they recruited) were doing while in training. Kindof important, and arguably resulted in a rather substantial reduction in recruit attrition.

We have never received an official quote on hosting an application (or hosting a development environment), but others have been quoted fees of between $80,000 to $250,000 per server/per year. And, that is after startup costs of about $500,000. Modern intranet based systems generally require multiple servers.

And, there even more fun... You must certify all applications through their mighty clearing house. They have no clue what they are doing there.

And, not to belabor the point... Mission Critical applications written by contractors that perform some minor security 'violation' like updating it's own configuration file have to be rewritten. Ah, the joy of spending millions and consuming months/years of development - all the while your customer base reverts to the 1950's.

NMCI is taking the Navy and Marine Corps to the era of pencils and paper. There will be (actually I think there is) an increase in manpower requirements as we accelerate into history. And the Marine Corps concurrently wiped out their data oriented MOSs.

Love and Kisses...
One very happy customer
Feel Free to use my email to reach me

Now, let me summarize my critique of NMCI
  1. The NMCI Contractors do not integrate with the command. They could just as easily be in India or some city central nudie bar for all the local staff does for you or is capable of doing for you. Their boss is EDS.
  2. Information Technology is supposed to be flexible. Things change in Information Technology every day – and change is not limited to hardware or operating systems. The NMCI contract places the Navy/Marine Corps in a position where our enterprise data and software is locked in place and time. NMCI has to certify every minor change in an application as though it were a massive rewrite or upgrade. Windows applications are bug-fixed constantly. Each modification will require thousands of dollars and months of ‘labor’ for NMCI to certify.
  3. The certification process has resulted in attempts to ‘internet enable’ all applications. This is costly and buggy. The new user interface is slow and not nearly as effective as a windows application. There is NO return on investment and the most likely result is the death of an application.
  4. The certification process, as well as the arcane and undefined and constantly changing client machine security settings, result in an enormous reduction in the use of work flow enhancement software.
  5. And, finally, any attempt to develop a new application is halted because it cannot be hosted within the NMCI maintained domain - it's domain is simply too inflexible and too expensive. Thus, since military systems are not permitted to be hosted at commercial sites we have a chicken and egg problem. And, the egg cannot even form. There is no shared development platform within the NMCI network.


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