Air Force aims for one network by end of 2012

The Air Force intends to migrate most of its localized and non-standardized IT networks into a single system known as AFNET by the end of next year. The migrati...

The Air Force is busy breaking down hundreds of local IT networks — that grew up according to their own rules over the past couple decades — and consolidating them into one enterprise network.

The service said it has shut down the legacy networks at 27 of its bases and major commands and merged them into an enterprise network called AFNET. There are 384 bases left to go, but the Air Force will finish the migration by the end of 2012, said Nicholas Davenport, the Air Force’s program manager for the migration.

The service, however, will not try to make AFNET all things to all people. Bases will continue to be responsible for monitoring and managing their own local network architectures and fixing problems for their own communities of users.

So in the Air Force’s case, what does it mean to have one network?

“What we mean in the scope of the AFNET migration is the standard core services that service the entire Air Force,” Davenport said in an interview with Federal News Radio. “We’re focusing on things like email, a single centralized helpdesk and a centralized Active Directory structure. There are still instances where you’re going to have dedicated circuits or things like that, but what we’re doing is providing a single view into those that will allow us to command and control those as well. So while they’re not going to integrated and controlled by the same mechanism, they’re still visible by the same mechanism, so that lifted.

Davenport said the Air Force has learned some lessons from the Army’s enterprise migration.

“But probably not as much as we’d like to,” he said. “We’ve traded all our documentation back and forth, but it’s still on our to-do list to have a sit-down at the technical level with their folks to really understand how they’re doing it, why they’re doing what they’re doing and what the impacts are so we can try to frame the Air Force methodology for transitioning to DoD email in the future.”


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