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CERDEC Demonstration Shows Networking Prowess

A versatile test bed is an example of one technology being applied to develop another, the advanced TITAN communications system, by engineers at the US Armys CERDEC.

Advanced networking technologies are critical to present and future military requirements. To show progress of two of its key network technologies, the Communications- Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC), part of the US Army's Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM), held a demonstration of its Virtual Ad hoc Network (VAN) and Tactical Information Technologies for Assured Network (TITAN) Operations systems this past March for more than 35 engineers and scientist at CERDEC's Network Operations Interoperability Laboratory in Fort Monmouth, NJ.

Attendees (see figure) got to see the VAN test bed developed by CERDEC's Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate (S&TCD). It is designed for technology developers to resolve issues with network applications before fielding them, according to Rosie Bauer, NetOps Branch Chief. For soldiers, the VAN testbed will facilitate easier issue resolution for network applications before fielding them. Bauer explained that "We can start looking at some of the NetOps types of problems soldiers are having out there, whether it's configuring the network, planning the network or monitoring it you can actually start looking at that and providing solutions."

For the demo, Bauer's team worked with TITAN engineers to show how the VAN testbed can evaluate network applications such as TITAN. Kim Moeltner, TITAN Network Management Technology Lead, noted " The soldier gets a be tter product because the software is tested on large scales and it's tested in a real environment. Any bugs are worked out, any inefficiencies are worked out, and that's what TITAN is really leveraging it for." Because the testbed enables applications to be evaluated in a virtual field environment, utilizing VAN for in-house testing helps alleviate costs associated with field tests.

Bauer explained that having the capabilities of the testbed is like bringing in- field conditions to the laboratory: "It's very costly to have 3,000 platforms; it's a lot of money, a lot of man power. So you can use this testbed to emulate that, to represent the different echelons. You find out how it's really going to perform; you make sure that you take care of all your issues before you get out there so that when you do get out there, you get optimal performance." Keith Whittaker, S&TCD NetOps lab lead added, "We are basically taking the field environment and pu tting it into a box and using that as a foundation for testing."

VAN testbed technologies allow multiple applications running on virtual nodes, or connection points, to send Internet Protocol (IP) packets to each other via a simulated ad-hoc network. They simulate waveforms of Army radios, replicating their bandwidths and time delays. Research and development efforts for VAN were funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Director, Defense Research and Engineering.

The demonstration represented the first time that Moeltner's team showed their customers progress made in TITAN's core network management technology. Customers in attendance included Project Manager War fighter Information NetworkTactical; Project Manager for Test, Measurement, and Diagnostic Equipment, of the Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications Tactical (PEO C3T); Project Manager Ba ttle Command and Project Manager Network Systems Integration (NSI) of Program Executive Office Integration (PEO-I).

TITAN is an Army Technology Objective that develops, matures, and demonstrates modular technologies that improve network planning and management, security tools to protect mobile networks and agent-enhanced ba ttle command tools to enable real-time situational awareness.

Using the VAN testbed to create a wideband networking waveform as the main environment, Moeltner and her team ran through different scenarios to show how TITAN's four technology product areas perform and showcased improvements made to them. The technologies include the mission of policy translation engine, the Information Assurance fault correlation engine that works in tandem with the response system and adaptive middleware.

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