Modern navies run on computers. Unfortunately, computers don’t last nearly as long as ships, something that’s both a hardware and a software problem. The computer console over there might be up to operating key systems on a billion-dollar warship, but a casual observer might be forgiven for wondering if it would be up to the task of running Pong. Behind that computer, an array of wiring and other mechanical components snake through the ship. They, too, have finite lifespans, but the networks they carry are vital. On top of it all, software systems run key programs, and tie various networks together. Some of those programs must change or be re-created when hardware shifts, while others change when new software replaces them.
All this has to be managed, and warships worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been retired early because their electronics upgrades were seen as too costly. Hence recent pushes toward open-architecture computing on many modern navy ships, built with commercial rather than military-proprietary components. Hence, also, programs like the US Navy’s future CANES (Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services), designed to streamline and update shipboard networks, to improve interoperability across the fleet.
What to do until CANES? Enter the Common Afloat Local Area Network Infrastructure (CALI) effort:
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