Information Technology for the 21st Century

The Navy has laid down clear-cut guidelines for incorporating new technology in the coming years. Windows NT Magazine has included the Navy's principles here for readers who are interested in the Navy's approach.

Information Technology for the 21st Century (IT-21) is the Navy's strategic technology plan. Its goal is to provide a philosophy not only to guide deployment of information technology, but to encourage the re-engineering of processes throughout the service. IT-21 consists of seven principles:

1. If the boss doesn't use it, don't buy it. To ensure that technology is adopted fully, it must have the support of those in charge. If those in charge don't support, adopt, and actively use the technology, the staff will not likely use the technology to its highest level of value.

2. Integrate tactical and nontactical applications. Maintaining separate systems for tactical and nontactical use is impractical and expensive. The Navy had to deploy one system that supports both tactical operations, such as sharing battle plans and reviewing intelligence, and nontactical operations, such as logistics planning, personnel records, and training. The goal is to use the ship to fight and to run the ship from one PC.

3. Stay common with industry. Matching the industry resources spent on developing new hardware and software would be impossible from within the military. Using widespread technology lowers the initial costs and the costs of training and troubleshooting.

4. Drive applications to one personal computer. All applications must run from one Windows-based PC. This single PC should access legacy applications residing on mainframes to eliminate the need for multiple devices at each person's workstation.

5. Use commercial off-the-shelf products wherever possible. Off-the-shelf software is much cheaper to buy than custom, proprietary products. You can complete most tasks with off-the-shelf products. The software will cost less, and the time to deploy the software is reduced.

6. Seamless sea-to-shore transitions. Users of a system should notice no difference when they are in port or at sea. For instance, while the ship is in port, the network may connect to the world through a fiber optic line. While the ship is at sea, the connection will be through satellite. In either case, users should notice no difference in their procedures.

7. No stovepipes. Stovepipes are systems designed for communication within one branch of the armed forces. These systems have led to a diverse and incompatible set of protocols and procedures that waste money and hinder communications between the services. Do not allow them.

IT-21 has also defined several standards for products to be used on ship. The Navy developed the standards in accordance with the Department of Defense Joint Technical Architecture and Defense Information Infrastructure Common Operating Environment specification. Table A lists some of the standards.

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