Leveraging Virtualization Technology for Command and Control Systems Training

July 2012
Topics: Command and Control, Military Simulation, Training Technologies
Joseph Connery Jr., The MITRE Corporation
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The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) (N-NC) crew training has been hindered by an inability to conduct dynamic training and exercises on multiple Command and Control (C2) systems. There was no common simulation injector because of stove-piped acquisitions and legacy interfaces that were incompatible with the Live-Virtual-Constructive Toolkits. The N-NC Joint Training and Exercise Directorate could not afford traditional replication or emulation of all C2 systems and their data sources, nor the inevitable sustainment costs. This paper presents a cost-effective solution to provide dynamic scenario injection into multiple C2 systems: leveraging server and desktop virtualization technology described in previous I/ITSEC papers. The virtualization process transforms stand-alone systems into functionally equivalent virtual machines (VMs). Server virtualization technology lets multiple VMs run as guests on a single host, and a host can support VMs running different operating systems. This allows entire processing strings, distributed throughout North America, to be converted into VMs on a single server. Because the VMs inherit the fidelity of the actual processors, their outputs are as authentic as the operational systems. These VMs feed processed simulation event data into actual C2 systems or equivalent VMs. Future operational system upgrades can be virtualized and then replace existing VMs without changing this infrastructure. Desktop virtualization technology allows users to run multiple VMs in separate windows on a common display. NNC exploited desktop virtualization to simplify the trainee and model operator's workspaces. They can view and manage multiple VMs with one monitor, keyboard and mouse (controlling simulations, lower echelon processing and operator interaction, and viewing C2 workstation displays). N-NC successfully leveraged server and desktop virtualization to overcome training shortfalls with authentic processing and display of dynamic simulation data. This approach can be used as an archetype for a variety of testing, training, or operational uses.

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