The glorious US navy, whose first action involved firing two cannon balls into an undefended English town while trying to help the French, is fast discovering that an outsourcing contract with HP is worse than a deal with the devil.
The Navy had a ten year contract with HP to lease its PCs and apparently is fed up to the back teeth with it. Wired tells us that the Navy is fed up with mail inboxes that are smaller than Gmail, losing their networks for days while Office 2007 is installed.
But it seems that the Navy can’t get rid of the maker of expensive printer ink and has had to sign another five year deal while it weans itself off the outfit. This involves buying all the gear that it has been using from HP for another $1.6 billion and to licence all the documents needed to run the thing.
Any savings from outsources are going to be lost just getting a basic communications package insourced again.
One Navy deepthroat said that HP had the Navy by its cannon balls and the only choice it had was pay up or send in the Marines. Actually it would have been more useful to sink HP using entirely soft porn stars, but that seems to have been done already.
The idea behind the original project was brilliant. Dubbed Navy Marine Corps Intranet it was all designed to combine a hodgepodge of 15,000 different systems into a single, manageable network. EDS would own all the gear and operate it all for the Navy. It was supposed to cost $4.1 billion for five years.
It has grown to become the second largest network in the world, next to the internet and connects 700,000 sailors, marines and civilians on nearly 400,000 computers in 620 locations throughout the United States. Japan and Cuba are connected.
NMCI’s 4,100 servers handle more than 2.3 petabytes of data. The project was a success in that the old networks were merged into one centrally-controlled network that is far easier to operate.
But the whole thing has proved about as flexible as an aircraft carrier sailing up the Thames and it is impossible to get HP to deal with problems on Navy time. In short it is a self policing monopoly that does what it likes.
HP, which bought EDS, still operates under performance metrics set a decade ago which was when a typical workstation on the network costs the Navy $2,490.72 per year and needed an e-mail inbox with a 50-MB capacity.
It costs the Navy $4,085.64 to use a “high-end graphics” workstation and a classified Ethernet port can cost $9,300 to $28,800 per year.
When asked to take security measures that are common today but were not 10 years ago, like hard disk encryption, threat heuristics, and network access control it says no.
HP claims that 87.5 percent of NMCI users surveyed said they’re happy with the service, however as Wired pointed out among the Marines NMCI’s means “No More Contracted Infosystems,” “Non Mission-Capable Internet” and “Never Mind Crash Imminent.”
The Government Accountability Office moaned in 2006 that after investing about six years and $3.7 billion on NMCI, the Navy has yet to meet the programme’s goals.
In 2008, Navy officials declared their intention to finally assume day-to-day control of the networks. Then they changed their mind when they realised that they did not really know how.
Then they realised that all the IP was owned by HP. Without that information, the Navy couldn’t really begin to plan for the Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN.
It all looks a total mess with the Navy being left all at sea by HP