DIS Case Studies

Campus Wifi

When CNIC (Navy) was needing to expand its MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) WiFi networks at Camp Lemmonier in Djibouti, they looked to DIS for cost-efficient solutions that would be able to withstand the extreme conditions there. MWR networks provide Internet access to US troops and support personnel, playing an important role in keeping them in touch with friends and family back home. DIS was able to survey the site and sit down with the base leadership to discuss their concerns and expectations. Some of the considerations and requirements that came out of the survey process:

  • Internet bandwidth is neither cheap or abundant in the host nation, therefore efficient and equitable use of the available bandwidth was a major requirement.
  • Network security is always a concern, but when the safety of the users is at stake, security is of utmost importance.
  • To the extent possible, existing wired and wireless infrastructure was to be reused.
  • Base leadership identified videoconferencing as application that was important to morale, as it allowed users to connect with loved ones in a meaningful way.
  • Fiber and copper infrastructure were unavailable in many of the places where access points needed to be located to give users the best connect.
  • The network would need to scale to thousands of registered users and 400 simultaneous users on the network at any given time.
  • All users would need to register to use the network, but the administrative burden of maintaining a database of thousands of users would need to be minimized due to personnel constraints.

DIS was able to define a network architecture for the base that built off a their existing core Ethernet switching infrastructure. Existing APs were able to be converted to thin APs for use with new WiFi controllers, allowing new APs to be deployed with little to no pre-configuration or concern about interfering with other APs. The existing switch network was augmented with new switches and wireless backhaul links to provide redundancy in the backbone and further reach into fiber/wire-poor portions of the base. New core network equipment provided WAN acceleration, per-user traffic shaping/policing, firewall, P2P curtailment, in-line virus protection, content filtering, user authentication, and network management with remote monitoring at CNIC's stateside NOC.

Solution summary: A network that allowed users to connect from anywhere on the base and be guaranteed to have a fair share of the available bandwidth with each user having prioritized video-conferencing. While providing these new services to the end users, the new systems reduced administrative burdens and the on-site personnel needed to maintain the network.

Mobile/Temporary WiFi

Conditions at Isa Air Base (Bahrain) led to unique requirements for base-wide WiFi deployment. Due to the temporary mission at that base, all housing and most of the facilities on the base were tents and temporary structures that were often moved. DIS was able to design a mobile backbone infrastructure that allowed for rugged outdoor equipment that could be broken down and redeployed with little to no reconfiguration of the equipment. Using a wireless backhaul link to connect to the ISP modem, DIS's design facilitated the base staff relocating their core network components into a more protected environment in one of the few permanent structures on the base.

Solution summary: Network nodes that could be moved from one location to another as the physical infrastructure of the base changed, while maintaining the performance needed to serve users in key areas of the base.

Mobile Broadband Access

Since the mid-90’s, ships have been able to connect to shore-based network while in port over wired/optical networks. However, when the Navy saw how much they were spending on continually replacing fiber optic cabling, they decided to look at alternatives to throwing expensive marine-grade fiber optic cabling out to the ships. The expense of spools of the marine-grade fiber needed to connect ships to pier fiber, and the tendency of fiber optic cabling to degrade or break in the extreme conditions on the piers in the Northeast led them to consider wireless. DIS was able to provide a wireless design that provides ample bandwidth for ship applications, enhanced wireless security, and support for legacy technologies that are still used in the Navy’s pier networks. Ships connected with fiber were often down for several hours while changing pier locations. While on WPCS, the ships remain connected the entire time they were in port regardless of whether they were at their assigned berthing location or not.

  • As ships neared port (sometimes over a mile away), they could come down off of their expensive satellite connections and connect to shore infrastructure.
  • Improved the quality of life for the ship's IT staff, since they could have the ship moved off satellite and onto the shore network by the time the brow was set up for the crew to disembark.
  • Aggregation of traffic for several networks that needed to reach the ships, including a secure training environment that had previously required a separate fiber optic network.
  • Ship connectivity expanded to fiber poor areas of bases and bases that had no existing fiber infrastructure for a small fraction of the cost of trenching fiber.
  • Voice services (emulated POTS) were provided to subs, which had previously had no telephone services.

Adding up the savings from the reduction of satellite lease time and curtailment in need for marine-grade fiber optic cable, WPCS avoided costs in the multiple millions of dollars for the Navy.

See this article in CHIPS for more information on WPCS: http://www.doncio.navy.mil/CHIPS/ArticleDetails.aspx?ID=2753

Solution summary: Wireless transport system that enhanced the reach and service mix of Navy pier networks, while avoiding millions of dollars of infrastructure, construction, and satellite services costs.

Legacy Integration

Navy Pier networks are required to carry NIPRnet (Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network) and SIPRnet (Secure Internet Protocol Router Network) traffic. During the initial install of the pier networks, the Navy made a substantial investment in NSA encryptors such as the KIV7 and KG84. These devices were designed to operate with serial interfaces, so any system introduced into the pier network needs to support the transport of this bitstream encrypted serial traffic. In addition to the pier network itself, any extension of the pier network that leaves a secure facility (such as leased line) must be bulk encrypted. DIS was able to find solutions that enabled the deployment of wireless networks and pier network extensions across public infrastructure using TDMoIP devices and bulk encryption, while not forcing the Navy to make any new investments in expensive NSA-approved encryption equipment. Key points to this solution:

  • Reach of SIPRnet was extended to Naval Weapons Station Yorktown (VA) and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (ME), which previously had no connectivity.
  • Enabled serial bitstream encrypted data to be transported over wireless systems (ex. WPCS).

By extending the reach of SIPRnet to Yorktown and Portsmouth, Navy personnel were no longer required to drive long distances to check secure SIPRnet email and websites, thus enhancing productivity and quality of life.

Solution summary: Network that supported the transport of legacy TDM, voice, and serial traffic over a wireless and packet based network. Lowered investment threshold to moving to more modern infrastructure by not requiring upgrade of encryption devices.