Here Comes NOMAD

NASA ARC internal memo: NOMAD (NASA Operational Messaging and Directory) Project Town Hall

"The NASA Administrator has advocated the development and implementation of a single agency messaging system. NOMAD encompasses integrated e-mail, calendaring, instant messaging, and common file sharing. Ames is scheduled to migrate to NOMAD by November 2007. In addition, vendor support for the Eudora e-mail client will expire November 2007."

Editor's note: Of course it would not occur to NASA to go buy a commercial, secure, off-the-shelf solution - just like the private sector uses. Nah. Let's recreate what is already available for sale - no doubt at 10 times the cost - something that will be out of date the moment it goes online.

Reader note: NOMAD is far worse than what you could imagine. 200MB Inbox quotas, to start with (or, for an additional fee, 1GB). Servers centralized at JSC and MSFC. Other centers have reported repeated downtimes, bouncing messages. All e-mail must be POP'd to the local desktop. Etc. Software-wise, it's MS Exchange servers. Why the field Centers can't have their own Exchange servers (perhaps with more relaxed quotas and other policies?) is beyond me, but much of what comes from HQ is beyond me. Back to 1970's systems architectures for NASA. NOMAD is a sweetheart ODIN contract deal (ODIN - the IT services run by LockMart) that is a nightmare for us users. Gotta love naming an e-mail system after a homicidal robot [from Star Trek] . Where's Roykirk?

NOMAD is a horrible name and it falsely implies that the Agency went out and developed its own software. Also, I think that Ames is probably the last Center to migrate. Almost all other Centers are already using it.

All NOMAD is, at its core, is a Microsoft Exchange-based server. One system for the Agency that will allow a single client application to interface with a single server to provide e-mail, contacts, and calendar. An actual "OneNASA" solution! I don't think that it's so bad. In fact, in the long run, I think it was a good decision to do this. The transition was not well done at all Centers, and support from ODIN for non-Windows users in making the transition was pretty weak or nonexistent, but nothing's perfect. There are also some legitimate architecture questions, like why put the primary servers at JSC, given its location vis--vis hurricane strikes? But we're told that there are "backup" servers at Marshall, so not to worry.

On the list of key issues at NASA, this doesn't seem like one of them. In fact, this is probably one of the better decisions that NASA has made lately.

Check out from which you get a notion of what NOMAD looks like: Microsoft heavy operating systems, calendaring, e-mail, directory services, and instant messaging. NOMAD is very much a COTS solution.

Regarding the NOMAD "issue"... There is another problem your reader did not mention. As a part of the NOMAD implementation, all other email servers across the agency will be decommissioned, along with their existing center-specific email address if they have one. Of course, this will be disruptive to people who have had the same email address for 10 or 20 years. It is also disruptive to systems that use email for programmatic activities *other* than personal communication, such as computer-to-computer notifications.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on July 17, 2007 11:56 PM.

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