William Bowley, LAN manager and data processing technician first class, was a key player in implementing Windows NT and Microsoft Exchange aboard the USS Carl Vinson. Here are some of his thoughts on the project:

What did you like about the project's implementation?

I love NT's easy central administration, using the administration tools such as the User Manager for Domains, Server Manager, and Microsoft's Exchange Server Administrator. We have completed a dozen NT 3.51 and NT 4.0 Server builds from scratch in the last six months or so. The learning curve is steep, but the hands-on experience is an invaluable learning tool that you can't get from a book.

What didn't you like about the project's implementation?

The NT Messages Database was particularly unhelpful. "Contact Technical Support" can be enormously frustrating at 3:00 am.

What would you have done differently on the project?

I would have attended an NT administration and implementation course before I arrived. On-the-job training is wonderful to a point. NT training for network administrators is in its infant stage. Training information will be most helpful once we can implement it and add it to the training syllabi and the Navy Training Tracks.

What advice can you give your peers?

Purchase the NT Resource Kit books from Microsoft Press and the Mastering Windows NT series by Minasi, Anderson, and Creegan for both NT 3.51 and NT 4.0. Both have been invaluable aids in solving many problems.

Solution Summary
The US Navy has launched a bold new initiative that will provide cutting edge technology for its forces into the 21st century. The Information Technology for the 21st Century (IT-21) initiative centers around Windows NT 4.0 and will move to NT 5.0 when it becomes available. Under this initiative, the USS Vinson aircraft carrier has launched the Gold Eagle LAN to support its 6000 crew members. This floating LAN consists of six main NT-based servers and approximately 600 NT, Windows for Workgroups, and Windows 95 client computers throughout the ship. The network uses MS Exchange for messaging and MS Office for administrative tasks. The LAN provides crew members with departmental orders and administrative information. The network also provides satellite connectivity so that the Vinson crew can access the Internet to stay in touch with friends and family while the ship is out at sea. Internet access also provides news and current events during the ship's deployment. The IS team aboard the Vinson plans to use Adobe Acrobat and other Web-related tools to create an intranet on the ship so that each department can provide instructions and information to its crew members.