Thursday, March 4, 2010

NMCI Rant

Okay, this probably comes as no surprise to any of you who use the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), but I feel the need to vent.

First, for those of you who aren't familiar with NMCI, the Navy hired Electronic Data Services (EDS) several years ago to provide and manage ALL of the Navy and Marine Corps' unclassified and SIPRNET (secret internet protocol routing network) computers and networking. It's quite a racket if you ask me. EDS gets ungodly amounts of money from the Navy.

Case in point: If I walk into my local Verizon store and buy a Blackberry, I'd wager money I'll walk out the door in 30 minutes with a fully functional Blackberry - email set up, phone numbers and address book transferred over, full-blown access to the internet. AAAAAAND, I bet you it would cost me significantly LESS than $200.

In order to get an NMCI Blackberry, it takes MONTHS of wading through a dump-truck full of bureaucratic red tape and waiting. Then, when you finally get the Blackberry, it's just like those ridiculous appointments with the cable company where they tell you they'll be there "between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m." and you have to wait with baited breath for them to show up, and while they're in your office for an hour and a half installing the Blackberry software and syncing it up with your computer, you aren't allowed to go anywhere or do anything besides stand guard over the visitor in your office who has unfettered access to your computer.

Then, after standing there waiting for an hour and a half, the technician tells you that he has to go back to the shop to redo your Blackberry setup because they erroneously set it up for Kevin.Lastname. Unfortunately, because there is more than one Kevin Lastname in the Navy, I'm actually Kevin.MIDDLE INITIAL.Lastname in the NMCI global address book, so they set the Blackberry up for the wrong user.

When you finally DO get your NMCI Blackberry, it's severely limited in functionality. It's nice that I can check my work email and calendar, but that's about all it's good for because just about every other feature is locked-down (no bluetooth, most websites blocked, etc).

Oh, and in return for all of this great functionality, EDS gives the Navy a bill for over TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS (for ONE Blackberry).

Jeez, I didn't even sit down to rant about NMCI Blackberries. I just got on a roll when I was trying to give some background information for non-Navy folks to understand what NMCI is.

No, I actually sat down with the intent to write two other relatively quick rants.

Rant #1. NMCI fairly recently installed some new features that cause these text-boxes to pop-up and chastise you if you leave your CAC card unattended. While the programmers who wrote these new updates surely meant well, the practicality of their application fell short of the mark.

For example. If I tell my computer to LOG OFF, then it pops up an annoying little window telling me that my CAC card is still in my computer keyboard and asks me what I would like to do.

The first time this happened, I rolled my eyes and said, "Oh FINE!" and pulled my CAC card out of the keyboard. Then the computer promptly locked itself because I had removed my CAC card. Yes, you read that right, the computer did NOT log off as directed because I had just removed my CAC card.

What it boils down to is this. When I want to log off my computer, I have to leave my CAC card in the keyboard. I have to tell the computer to log off. Then I have to wait for the annoying little pop-up window to appear. Then I have to click on "I want to continue what I was doing" in the annoying little pop-up window. Then the computer will continue with the log-off sequence and I can remove my CAC card and go home.

Rant #2. They tell us to log off our computers at the end of the day and leave the computers on so the administrators can remotely provide software updates and whatnot on the back shift. If that's the case, then WHY on EARTH does my computer perpetually tell me as soon as I log on in the morning that it has an update to apply and needs to reboot??? I thought that was the whole point of leaving the computer logged-off and powered-on all night!

Okay, I'm done ranting now. I'll get off my soap box.

8 comments:

Dani said...

As someone that works in N6 and with NMCI (Kinda) ... I totally agree with you on the log off thing. That annoys me to no end. I can see the reboot thing though since the computer is just logged off and not turned of that it might need to be restarted to upgrade.

Loping Squid said...

I'm happy to say that in the entire time NMCI has been around I've never had to use it. The benefit of the 'unconventional' career path.

SonarMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SonarMan said...

NMCI was going in just as I was getting out in '02. I was one of the Sys Admins for the Groom Team (SSEP) at the time.

Before NMCI, our annual budget for IT equipment, which included buying all the toys for the department we thought we could get away with, and upgrading everyone's machines to the latest processors (600MHz!), it came out to about $60K. We did the math for NMCI as to how much it would cost for our 50-plus seats - >$1M per year!

Part of the plan was to take all of the upgrades we had done and either trash them or absorb them, and replace them with their own POS machines. Essentially, they were going to charge us thousands of dollars for the equipment we just bought for hundreds of dollars.

We tried to fight it with the excuse that we had special sensitive data and proprietary software provided by NAVSEA and SPAWAR, but to no avail. We were assimilated. Resistance was futile.

What a waste.

Simusid said...

Greetings, and I feel the need to rant myself. It is sunday the 9th. Do you actually HAVE email? Because I don't and we have gotten zero email since last thursday. Call the helpdesk and you get "multiple east and west coast facilities are experiencing problems with CAC logons and email is slow or unavailable."

Yup, $10k/year for me too. Oh wait, more.... I have a developers account where they charge you MORE and provide LESS services.

Wow, someone check my BP!

TopB said...

I work on the NMCI Contract and it gets old hearing the complaints from the end users who think EDS, HP is to blame for all the problems.

Lets look at some of your issues:

Blackberry account wrong name, this was caused because your GOVERNMENT CTR ordered the Blackberry under the wrong name.

Your Blackeberry will not let you surf any site you want and has the Bluetooth turned off. This is a GOVERNMENT DOD Security requiremnent NOT a HP/EDS requirement. Remember this Blackberry does not belong to you it is for use on the Government network within the parameters established by the GOVERNMENT!

I don't dispute there are issues with NMCI but they are not all caused by HP. There are going to be issues remember NMCI is the LARGEST network in the world, only surpassed by the INTERNET.

Thank You!

Randy said...

Not all NMCI's fault? Why doesn't your knucklehead leadership fight harder for the basic user instead of trying to figure out how to squeeze more money out of the gov't while okay to everything. Also, lets not forget some of these classic gaff's during the last 10 months in which I've had to fight with NMCI.

1) Deployment of Guardian Edge. NMCI claimed that there would be less than 15% failure rate for installation - reality showed it was closer to 50%, thanks in part because you failed to upgrade systems from W2K to XP first.

2) You pushed the year 2031 to all NMCI computers, which wreaked havoc for three straight days across the entire NMCI project.

3) NMCI "updated" the Juniper application that creates the VPN tunneling when logging into a required website and as a result, 40% of my systems stopped working. It took the NOC 3 month and intense bitching on my part to finally get NMCI to pay attention to my users plight. Does anyone want to guess what finally got NMCI to the table and start dedicating time to fix my user's systems? Yup, our contract liaison finally had enough of my bitching and threatened to stop payment on the seats that were still affected after three months. What's worse is that I was the first one in our command of 2,000+ users to report the issue and NMCI refused to look into my first question "What did you guys push last night?" Had they done that when I asked, we could have avoided 3 months of agony.

kb24sd said...

Trust me guys I worked for EDS and on the NMCI contract for 5 years and till this day I honestly don't know what the hell kept me from losing my sanity while working for them. I worked at EDS's west coast help desk call center which was located in San Diego. Trust I experienced and saw how EDS literally ran their help desk like a IT Sweatshop and treated their direct employees and sub contracted employees like slaves.

No I kid you not. Since I left EDS they have had several class action lawsuits against them by past employees.