Expeditionary Cyber Network (X Net)
Navy SBIR 2014.2 - Topic N142-113
ONR - Ms. Lore-Anne Ponirakis - loreanne.ponirakis@navy.mil
Opens: May 23, 2014 - Closes: June 25, 2014

N142-113 TITLE: Expeditionary Cyber Network (X Net)

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Information Systems

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: Communications Electronic Sensing and Attack System II (CESAS II)

RESTRICTION ON PERFORMANCE BY FOREIGN NATIONALS: This topic is "ITAR Restricted". The information and materials provided pursuant to or resulting from this topic are restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which control the export of defense-related material and services, including the export of sensitive technical data. Foreign nationals may perform work under an award resulting from this topic only if they hold the "Permanent Resident Card", or are designated as "Protected Individuals" as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). If a proposal for this topic contains participation by a foreign national who is not in one of the above two categories, the proposal may be rejected.

OBJECTIVE: This effort seeks to develop a man-packable, wireless, micro-server that can be networked with other similar servers to create a rapidly deployable tactical cloud with a computing cluster capability to support Company and below sized units to alleviate the need to reach-back to a C2 node for real-time assessments during tactical operations.

DESCRIPTION: Today’s warfighter has access to a wide array of organic and inorganic sensor platforms that can be employed to collect enemy information to improve battlefield situational awareness. Upon collection, this intelligence is raw and has little value to the warfighter. Depending on the mission-type and processing systems available, the intelligence data can sometimes be processed and analyzed at the tactical edge to inform critical decisions, but a more likely scenario exists. The data is normally transferred back to a C2 cell for analysis. Once transferred, the warfighter then waits for the data to be analyzed while their adversaries continue to maneuver to gain a tactical advantage. This process of survey, transfer, analyze, and assess is in many cases too slow to support the asymmetric threats we face today.

Current solutions including the implementation of cloud architectures at the tactical edge seek to address this problem. However, they focus on Battalion and above sized units and data processing occurs in various C2 nodes on the battlefield. With this architecture, the warfighter still has to wait for a supporting unit to conduct the real-time analysis. The technology developed in this SBIR will eliminate the waiting time required for remote analysts to provide tactical assessments.

The micro-server and memory module proposed for this effort should weigh between 5 and 7 lbs fitting in a form factor to minimize size & weight while ensuring maximum heat dissipation. Since the concept of operations (CONOPS) is to deploy multiple micro-servers across the battlespace, the performer should also develop an algorithm to ensure efficient task management across the suite of servers deployed. To ensure data integrity and security at the tactical edge, the small business will need to develop secure techniques for manual & remote "zeroing."

The minimum technical specifications for the wireless, micro-server are listed below:
1. Server should operate a Linux Operating System to enable use of existing tactical software tools
2. Server should contain the most efficient number of processor cores to meet size, weight and power requirements
3. Server should have a frequency agile, dual front end software defined radio (SDR) with a range of 400 MHz to 3 GHz attached to enable tactical communication and data distribution
4. Server should be anti-tamper and have Manual or Remote "Zeroing"
5. Server memory module with 2 Terabytes of storage should be solid state, high temperature rated
6. Server should use a battery that efficiently draws power based on workload and can be re-charged via multiple power source that may be available at the tactical edge

PHASE I: During Phase I, the performer should develop a systems engineering model to investigate potential designs for the micro-server and assess performance under varying environmental conditions and tactical mission sets. At a minimum, the input variables for the model should include size of server, form factor, input data, tactical data links, data classification, power requirements, information assurance, number of processors, ambient outside air temperature, and storage available. The model should also evaluate the design to support multiple servers distributed across the battlespace to form a tactical edge computing cluster.

At the conclusion of this phase, the small business should recommend a design to meet warfighter requirements as provided in the description in a comprehensive report. The report should include detailed systems diagrams for the micro-server and an overview of the comparative and trade-off analysis performed to guide the engineering of the system. The small business will also be required to provide an end-of-phase brief demonstrating the use of the model in designing the system.

This work will be at the UNCLASS level.

PHASE II: During Phase II, the performer will construct and engineer the micro-server designed and analyzed in Phase I. The small business will be required to demonstrate the capabilities of the server in a controlled experiment as designated by the Principal Investigator (PI). System cooling, intelligent data distribution and processing, information assurance (IA), and power are the four key scientific challenges the performer will need to address during Phase II.

During the latter part of this phase the performer will begin the IA certification process. The secure memory module will be a key enabler for this effort as it will allow the warfighter to deploy with extensive databases collected during previous missions to employ more accurate predictive models supporting real-time battlefield decisions. To guarantee the security of the overall module, collected data and software used to conduct analysis, the performer will ensure the module is anti-tamper and designed to be Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 Level 2 validated. The connection to the Naval Tactical Cloud must be 256-bit/WPA2 encrypted. The performer will also need to employ a mission-based manual and remote "zeroing" capability. Mission-based triggers for manual zeroing could be based on geo-location from server module, failure to comply with specific procedures when in use, or the health of the warfighter assigned to a module.

At the completion of this phase, the small business should deliver two working prototypes of the wireless micro-server. These prototype systems should participate in an operational demonstration where the small business collects performance data. The small business will provide a detailed report on the system performance during the operational demonstration. The report should include recommended system modifications.

This work will be at the UNCLASS level.

PHASE III: If development of a prototype server is successful in Phase II, the small business will begin this phase by making the modifications recommended in the end of Phase II report. Once those modifications are made, another operational demonstration will be scheduled to validate the modifications.

Following validation, the small business will begin the commercialization of the system to ensure the micro-server is secure and can operate within existing DoD network infrastructures. Commercialization will include testing and evaluation to ensure the micro-serve meets Military Standard 810 (MIL-STD 810) and Military Standard 461 (MIL-STD 461). For MIL-STD 810, testing will ensure the server can operate in harsh environmental conditions. For MIL-STD 461, testing will ensure the electromagnetic compatibility of the system and potential for integration and use with CESAS II. In addition, the small business will be required to complete the IA certification process started in Phase II to ensure the system is secure and can safely connect to existing network architectures, including the Electronic Warfare Services Architecture (EWSA).

This work will be at the UNCLASS level.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: This processing capability would also be usable by other law enforcement agencies to include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), Local/State Police, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

1. De Niz, Dionisio and Moreno, Gabriel, 2012, An Optimal Real-Time Voltage and Frequency Scaling for Uniform Multi-Processors, Pennsylvania: CMU Software Engineering Institute.

2. Fan, K.; Kudlur, M.; Dasika, G. and Mahlke, S., 2009, Bridging the Computation Gap between Programmable and Hardwired Accelerators, NC: 2009 Proceedings of International Symposium of HPCA.

3. Petcher, Adam; Khazan, Roger, and Utin, Dan, 2011, A Usable Interface for Location-Based Access Control and Over-the-Air Keying in Tactical Environments, MD: MilComm 2011.

KEYWORDS: Cloud Computing, WPA2, Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140 Level 2, Software Defined Radio (SDR), Processor Cores, Solid State Hard Drive

DoD Notice:  
Between April 23 through May 22 you may talk directly with the Topic Authors (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the topics. Their contact information is listed above. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is
not allowed starting May 23, 2014, when DoD begins accepting proposals for this solicitation.
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