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Winning Infrastructure -  The Case for Network Centric Warfare / Oren Barkai, ECI Telecom

Part II of Oren Barkai's discussion of modern NCW infrastructure approaches

The purpose of the Network Centric Warfare (NCW) doctrine is to translate information supremacy into strategic fighting advantages. Today, an army's ability to share information is crucial to a successful military agenda, leading governments to deploy NCW-based communication infrastructure as an integral part of their military strength.

Part I of this article discussed the requirements for network centric operations.

Based on these requirements, defense forces have several approaches to consider when deploying the infrastructure of a true NCW communication system.

The first is to imitate the methodologies present in the civilian telecom sector. This approach is primarily focused on capital expenditure (CAPEX) savings and may consider only the short to medium term requirements of the network build. The common practice in these cases is to design and build the network infrastructure to support service provisioning and capacity requirements for up to three years, assuming that future technologies and usage growth will require additional CAPEX for supplementary network build.

This, however, can cause serious disruptions to defense forces as the total life cycle cost of the network build is more important than the initial expense. Taking into consideration that militaries replace their infrastructure at a much slower rate (about once a decade) than their civil counterparts, if they adopt a technological path that did not mature or take a prime position, they may be faced with serious scalability and maintenance issues.

A different tack would be to combine this tactic with a more technological life cycle approach, namely rolling out the infrastructure on a staged basis using proven technologies like IP, MPLS and NG-SDH, all of which have longer life expectancies. Concerning infrastructure build, rolling out cutting-edge technologies is not always the right future-proof method.

This “melding-approach” beckons NCW infrastructure, a platform which uses a similar methodology as the above, yet with a different implementation scheme and emphasis. The main intent is to minimize “total cost of ownership” and to streamline operating expenses (OPEX) by implementing an integrated management system.

In the case of defense forces, with their long reach networks deployed in remote locations, a unified and integrated management system can make significant contributions towards reducing technical manpower requirements for network maintenance and fixes. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI), the system can also perform alarm correlations, suggest and resolve network problems and allow cross systems provisioning to reduce reaction time.

This approach is harder to implement as it requires a longer planning process and a commitment to future needs. Done right, however, the benefits clearly outweigh any shortcomings.

Part III - outlines the layered approach as implemented by ECI.