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NEWS | Jan. 5, 2023

OCNR N6 Visits NRC Atlanta

By MC2 Amber Smalley

Even if you are not in the IT field of work, all Sailors should be excited about the implementations that Office of the Chief of the Navy Reserve (OCNR) have made.

Capt. Christopher D. Peppel, Office of the Chief of Navy Reserve (OPNAV N0956) / RM 5E230 Director, IT Division and Navy Reserve Chief Information Officer made a site visit to Navy Reserve Center (NRC) Atlanta on October 16th to assess system performance under stress and conduct a ‘Future of Navy Reserve IT’ brief.

Peppel chose to visit NRC Atlanta because he wanted to highlight the first site to receive EIS (Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions) – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) that will improve connectivity (in bandwidth by up to 60x) and physical coverage in the spaces). EIS is the backbone to future projects like virtual desktop and other bring your own device (BYOD) solutions. He also conducted an IT brief with the ultimate goal of surveying the new Wi-Fi.

 “The Navy Reserve is replacing a years-old system called “Navy NOSC Wi-Fi” with modern infrastructure as a service (IaaS) called Enterprise Infrastructure Solution (EIS) provided by DISA,” said Peppel. “One hundred sixty-eight Navy Reserve Activities (NRAs) are in various stages of receiving an EIS install. EIS is a critical backbone to the future of Navy Reserve IT. It will replace legacy copper connections to the facilities with fiber optic connections, greatly increase bandwidth (more than 60x, in many cases), and provide near-total coverage to the NRAs’ spaces. Having wireless connectivity covering each NRA that is quick, available, and maintained through the EIS contract will enable NRAs to increase access for those who wish to work from their own devices (recognizing that the availability of NMCI-wired computers is not 1:1 for computers to SELRES). NRC Atlanta was the first NRA to commission an EIS system.”

Although Atlanta was the first site to receive this, there are now 45 sites are complete, 22 in progress, and 4 are scheduled these implementations.

During the visit Capt. Peppel confirmed that coverage within NRC Atlanta was greatly improved as a result of the increased number of access points – for example, Wi-Fi now reaches medical in the basement spaces where it did not before. This will lead to increased productivity, mobility, and collaboration.

“At two sites, we are in talks with other DON entities to connect NRA Wi-Fi via wireless 5G,” said Peppel. “This could be a cost saver (no need to run fiber optic cable underground at significant cost) by using commercial towers already in place. At this point, the effort is nascent and experimental.”

“Legacy Navy NRC Wi-Fi is being replaced with EIS,” said Peppel. “This service contract being performed by AT&T includes fiber to the buildings of the NRAs, wireless access points (WAPs) to send/receive Wi-Fi to nearly 100% of manned spaces, and contractor-provided networking gear to connect everything. In NRAs that rely on older copper phone lines EIS will also bring voice-over IP (VOIP) telephones (about 25% of the NRAs) to comply with a Department of the Navy mandate to divest of legacy analog phone switches.”

These implementations are going to improve the future of the fleet because improved Wi-Fi is the first step to transform the way the fleet operates.

“With fiber optics running commercial Wi-Fi, we can easily dial up bandwidth as needed – Wi-Fi will be the foundation for future capability,” said Peppel. “For example, we are beginning now to procure, provision, and distribute licenses for Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). AVD is a platform-agnostic solution, which will allow for an NMCI-like experience, turning any device into a viable working platform. For those who choose to bring their own device, the functionality of AVD over the connectivity of EIS will vastly improve access for those who drill or work from a Navy Reserve Activity.”

The outcome of this visit is that the future of Navy Reserve IT will rely more on the ‘computer in your pocket,’ or – your smart phone. It will likely use a ‘thin client’ instead of the costly computers that sit on our desks, increasing availability, decreasing cost, and improving efficiency.