Lotus to Link Army World By Year End

USA Western Territorial Headquarters has recently installed a Lotus Notes server on its local area network (LAN) in response to an initiative by International Headquarters to establish a global communications network.

The idea of a global communications network was introduced by General Paul Rader at the International Conference of Leaders held in Hong Kong in 1995. As a result of the discussion there, Major Walter Fuge, assistant to the secretary for business administration, represented the West in a global communication discussion group which met during the summer of 1995 at International Headquarters.

Army administration was looking for a secure way to establish electronic mail between International Headquarters and each of its 54 territories around the world. The Army has relied on fax machines and telephone lines up to now. The problem is that international telephone communication in some parts of the world is very unreliable. International Headquarters has often found itself out of contact with some of the territories. A global communication system for the Army has been established using Lotus Notes and was designed in conjunction with Interliant (formerly Worldcom) a leading US communications provider. Interliant provides satellite communications between airports around the world.

So, how does the system work? The territory’s new Lotus Notes server dials an 800 number to Interliant’s US based headquarters. The message is passed by Interliant’s satellite link to the nearest airport where it is just a short, local phone call to the Army’s Lotus Notes server in the receiving territory. Since the system does not rely on international telephone lines it is very reliable and within five minutes a message will be at its destination, anywhere in the world. Unlike the internet, Interliant’s satellite network is privately owned and not subject to the security problems that one might find on the internet. In addition, Lotus Notes provides encryption so that messages remain secure.

Lotus Notes provides the Army with more than just electronic mail–it has provision for establishing databases that can be replicated on Army servers around the world. This allows IHQ to publish documents such as the Orders and Regulations for Officers using Lotus Notes. When a change in the document is made, only the change is transmitted and updated on each of the territorial Notes servers rather than the entire document.

During 1996, Lotus Notes servers were set up in 11 territories and 15 other territorial links were established. Among those already connected to the global network are all four American territories, National Headquarters and the Canada and Bermuda Territory. The planned global communications network should incorporate all territories and commands by the end of 1997.

Within the territory, members of the cabinet have been given access to the Lotus Notes electronic mail and replicated databases. As time permits, the number of people accessing the Notes server will increase. Plans are in place to establish a gateway linking the territory’s SallyNet electronic mail system and Lotus Notes.

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