Virtual Network Monitor (VNM)

Period of Performance: 11/10/2003 - 12/15/2005


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Architecture Technology Corp.
9971 Valley View Road Array
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Principal Investigator


Next-generation tactical radio networks will likely provide high-bandwidth, jam-resistant physical layers on top of which the Internet Protocol (IP) is run. However, one cannot deny the fact that legacy data links such as Link-16 will remain in the inventory for some time. Weapons systems such as Patriot, THAAD, E-3, etc., all rely on Link-16 to provide common operational pictures of theater air activity. Furthermore, research continues on extending the capabilities of legacy data links, e.g., the Joint Range Extension initiative. As legacy data links continue to be integrated with emerging technologies, the need increases for management tools that can help visualize the state of a set of interconnected networks. Such tools do not currently exist, and the point solutions currently used to manage legacy networks lack industry-standard, open interfaces to COTS management software. Architecture Technology''''s Virtual Network Monitor (VNM) is a set of monitoring agents and a management station that present a unified, run-time view of multiple tactical data links. VNM agent-manager communication is based on the industry-standard Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), thus enabling integration with other SNMP-compliant management tools, such as those that will invariably be developed for future tactical data links and those currently available for COTS networks. Mangement tools are the cornerstone of network-centric interoperabilty. VNM brings management of tactical data links into the mainstream of network-management technology. By building SNMP-compliant interfaces to legacy tactical data links, the cost of management tools is drastically decreased as a standard interface to a tactical-link monitor is provided. While VNM provides a management station, the information from the VNM agents will be well documented and available for any SNMP manager. Thus VNM agents can be integrated with any other vendor''''s SNMP manager. The target market for VNM tools is clearly military. Link-16 networks deployed by all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and NATO; as such, the primary customer of VNM technology are Joint Information Control Officers, Dept. of Defense and NATO laboratories, and vendors of Link-16-based systems. Applications for these customers range from measuring the benefits of various resource allocation plans, to determining system interoperability by message decoding, to the ability to quantify actual added value advertised by developers of Link-16 systems and procedural enhancements. With current point solutions for tactical-data-link monitoring costing on the order of $250,000, an order-of-magnitude cost reduction is the price target of the final, Phase III VNM software.