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Self-Building/Establishing Networks


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Information Systems


OBJECTIVE: Develop and implement an innovative hardware and/or software solution that, in response to user or system command, can detect and identify electronic network (wired and/or wireless) infrastructure components, employ state of the art methods and technologies to automatically or under human-in-the-loop control configure the network components, and test/monitor the viability of the components to satisfy a predefined network architecture definition.


DESCRIPTION: The missile defense modeling and simulation mission and test infrastructure may benefit from the development of a self-establishing network capability. Such a capability will enable the autonomous establishment and maintenance of network connections by a primary network control node between remote components of a simulation or test according to a pre-defined network architecture.

The capability developed under this topic should incorporate innovative networking technologies to create a new autonomous networking capability. While other networking capabilities such as the Self-Organizing Networks (SONs) used in modern ad-hoc mobile and sensor networks utilize some autonomous connectivity and configuration capabilities, which may be leveraged in the development of this research, this topic differs in that the networking capability designed will create networks which will be established from a single control node with architectures that are defined by the user at the time of build, may be unique from build to build, may be re-defined and re-built according to user specifications, and which conform to DoD Cyber Security protocols. These requirements necessitate an entirely new capability which will require new research to develop and implement.

The research performed under this topic will identify the external network nodes that can be exploited to expand the network to meet the architecture topology. The network control node initiates control commands to configure the external nodes to meet the specified architecture parameter definitions. The control node also autonomously monitors the network and rebuilds or reconfigures the network when sub-components no longer meet the architecture parameter definitions or when desired changes to existing network architectures are specified by the user, and provides reports on the health and status of the network. Additionally, it provides for user oversight, management, intervention, and override of autonomous networking operations at all stages to ensure user control of autonomous networking and security activities. Upon completion of the network expansion and configuration, the control node then provides results of the network build and compliance with the architecture definitions.


PHASE I: Develop a design product which will present a notional architecture to be pursued in creating a hardware and/or software solution providing a self-establishing network capability which conforms to the user-specified network architecture and security constraint. The design will capture the key areas where new development is needed, suggest appropriate methods and technologies to realize the design based on the research performed, and incorporate new technologies researched during design development. Develop a plan for verification and validation (V&V) of the design once built.

The results of this phase will provide recommendations for what is needed to fully meet the architectural definition described above and identify where gaps exist. The proposed network design will also comply with DoD Cyber Security protocols, ensuring that network connections are only formed between authorized nodes at the same level of information security, that those connections pass data securely, and that tools are in place for the autonomous detection and mitigation of security breaches.


PHASE II: Using the design developed in Phase I, produce a small-scale prototype self-establishing network capability which can be used for test & evaluation of the basic networking and cyber security components of the design and identify areas where new development is needed. Develop new hardware and/or software technologies to support the prototype design proposed in Phase I. Perform V&V of the prototype according to the plan developed in Phase I to ensure that the priority objectives are adequately met. This prototype work will be used to inform the development and implementation of a mature, full-scale capability in Phase III.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Scale-up the self-establishing network capability from the prototype utilizing the new hardware and/or software technologies developed in Phase II into a mature, fieldable capability. Develop an interface to provide the user with reports of the completeness of network builds and compliance with the user-defined network architecture and cyber security protocols, and facilitate user oversight, management, intervention, and override of the system when necessary. Deploy the fully tested, verified, and validated capability. The contractor will commercialize the Phase III hardware and/or software, enabling an autonomous establishment or re-configuration of a wired and/or wireless network in accordance with a user-defined network architecture and adhering to user-defined network and cyber security preferences and/or protocols (desired security options may be selectable by the commercial user). Such autonomously configured networks will adhere to and provide for user oversight, management, intervention, and override of autonomous networking operations at all stages of operation.

This innovative technology will support increased speed and ease of secure network building and management in the private sector as well as secure business system integration.


COMMERCIALIZATION: This innovation technology for the autonomous establishment of secure networks has clear application beyond the scope of DoD systems. This technology can be applied to modems, routers, switches, hubs, protocol standards, ISO standards, IEEE standards, etc.


KEYWORDS: Self-Establishing Network, Systems Integration Tool, User-Defined Architecture 

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