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NIAPS Replication

 

What is NIAPS replication?

Replication is the transfer of data between servers as it pertains to DS and NIAPS. Use of NIAPS products generate replication files that are transferred from ship-to-shore or shore-to- ship either manually (by the NIAPS system administrator) or automatically (via an executable file stored on the server that NIAPS resides on). This term describes the transfer of data between DS servers afloat and appropriate shore servers (outbound amendments/inbound amendments) To ensure data between ship and shore servers remains synchronized, the servers that NIAPS reside on are configured to replicate periodically.

For example, over 4,100 Navy E-Learning courses resident on NIAPS can be accessed at sea without the worldwide web and without a Common Access Card (CAC). Once courses are completed onboard, transaction data is replicated from ship-to- shore to update personnel and training records. Similarly, new and updated courses are replicated from shore-to-ship to update the catalog of available courses.

Submarines: Submarine replication is done manually or automatically at Commanding Officer discretion. An executable script file that configures NIAPS for automatic replication is available upon request from the NAVY 311 Support Center.

Aircraft Carriers and Surface Ships: NIAPS versions 1.2 and higher capable ships use the inherent replication schema that automatically transfers replication files from ship-to-shore 6 times per 24 hour period. When operations dictate, Commanding Officers reduce the number of automatic replications, ensuring that a minimum of one replication per day is completed when connectivity is available.

For all NIAPS-equipped ships, the NIAPS System Administrator checks the server for replication files transferred from shore-to-ship (inbound amendments) on a daily basis. The NIAPS System Administrator shall use command guidance in determining which inbound amendments will be manually downloaded from the shore server that NIAPS resides on. Various inbound amendments are time sensitive (e.g., hull specific amendments require immediate download to ship's server where NIAPS resides, while others can be delayed until pier-side connectivity is available).

Manual methods of sending data (e.g. via CD, DVD, etc.) are only to be used when conditions preclude use of the server that NIAPS resides on. In the event circumstances prevent replication and NIAPS loses connectivity, ships may request DVD updates be mailed to the command. Submit requests via NAVY 311's support request form. Ships may also pre-order DVDs to be shipped at regular intervals if they know they will have extended periods of no replication.         Back to Top


How does the replication process work?

An example of how the replication process works is described below. Please note that all paths and publication names are used for illustrative purposes only and may not reflect actual data and paths used. Replication discussions should be held for each NIAPS candidate to determine the best replication method to be used:

  1. The NIAPS product site develops new update data that they wish to send out to fielded DS servers.

  2. The NIAPS product site uses a secure transport client to upload the new update data from their production server to the secure transport server located in the distributed gateway. The update data is passed through an NMCI firewall at the NIAPS product site over a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypted Unclassified Trusted Network Protect (UTNP) Policy compliant port 443 connection then through a Distance Support Lab firewall to the lab's secure transport server.

  3. As scheduled, data for the NIAPS product publications is moved from the secure transport server to a server that serves as the replication publisher for the NIAPS product. Again, the movement of the data is through a firewall using the same port 443 connection.

  4. As scheduled, the replication publisher assigned to publish the NIAPS product's publications generates a new update amendment for each NIAPS product publication if it detects a data change for that publication. The movement of the data is from the replication publisher through an amendment server firewall using the same port 443 connection.

  5. The NIAPS product's update amendments now reside on the amendment servers within the global amendment server system and are now available for downloading by deployed DS servers.

  6. The NIAPS Server update program is initiated. The request travels out the network card, through the Fiber Transceiver, to the Integrated Shipboard Network System (ISNS) shipboard network. The request will bypass the ship proxy, and go to the shipís outer router. From there, the shipís crypto encrypts the transmission, and transmits the signal through INMARSAT or SHF to a satellite.

  7. Deployed NIAPS server contacts the Amendment Server System using the DS_Update_Program and then determines if an update is available for any publication installed on the deployed NIAPS server. The movement of the data at this point is through the Amendment server firewall using the port 443 connection, through a Network Operations Center (NOC) firewall to the deployed NIAPS server.

  8. The deployed NIAPS server finishes downloading and applying each update. After the update is applied, software on the deployed NIAPS server can then perform operations on the newly downloaded data. These operations allow data to be moved, imported or can trigger other tasks as needed to get data loaded and into a useable format for the NIAPS product.

  9. The deployed NIAPS server runs tasks via Windows Task Scheduler to move or prepare data that has been generated by the NIAPS product on the deployed NIAPS server, and places that data in a specific directory for return back to shore.

  10. The deployed NIAPS server runs locally installed replication publisher software to generate an update to its hull specific publication that is used to send data back to the shore from that specific NIAPS server.

  11. Using the port 443 connection and firewall path, the deployed NIAPS server uploads the return data publication for its hull specific return back to an amendment server in the Amendment Server System.

  12. Amendment updates now will reside on an amendment server in the Amendment Server System awaiting retrieval by Distance Support back to the Distributed Gateway.

  13. A server dedicated to the collection of return data from deployed NIAPS servers contact the Amendment Server System and downloads updates to return publications from the deployed NIAPS servers.

  14. A return data server now applies updates to its installed publications and process data.

  15. The return data server now sends data that is relevant to a particular content provider to the correct directory for data returned by a specific deployed NIAPS server (ship) for retrieval by content provider.

  16. Return Data now resides on the SecureTransport server, awaiting the NIAPS Product server to download new return data. The NIAPS Product server schedules daily checks for new data on the Secure Transport server in the distributed gateway

  17. The NIAPS product server now uses the SecureTransport client to download new return data from the Secure Transport client in the Distributed Gateway to its production server for processing.

  18. The NIAPS product server now has custody of the return data from the deployed NIAPS server.

The simplest way to explain replication is to talk about the data compression software used for the replication process.

 

Folders that contain information are put into data compression software and the software then creates what's called a "publication."  A publication is a collection of folders that are compressed, much like a WinZip file.  The publication can be extracted by the data replication software client on the ship, so that the ship sees the same folders that are on the shore.  When changes happen in the folders in a publication, the data replication software scans the folders, identifies changes, and then creates amendments which are updates to the base information in a publication.  For more on information on publications and amendments, see the FAQs in this section on publications and amendments.

 

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How often will NIAPS replicate my productís content?

Normal NIAPS replication frequency is six times a day. When a ship is in port, connected to the internet, this replication schedule can normally be met. When a ship is operating at sea, bandwidth limitations and operation will often affect this replication frequency.          Back to Top


Is there a file size limitation with the replication process?

Normally, the replication file size is limited to 10-50 MB of data per day. Additional questions related to this can be directed to the NIAPS Replication Lead (NSWC Crane), 812-854-6073.          Back to Top


What software makes the NIAPS replication process work?

Tumbleweed (now Axway) SecureTransport and iORA/ Infonic Geo-Replicator are the current software packages used for the replication process.

  • Tumbleweek Secure Transport is the secure, multi-protocol file transfer solution that is used to encrypt the data during the replication process.

  • Geo-Replicator helps users in geographically distributed locations to communicate more effectively over networks that are periodically disconnected, have limited bandwidth or high latency.

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Is the data encrypted during the replication process?

Yes. Data is encrypted during the replication process.          Back to Top


What makes the replication process secure?

  • FIPS 140-x grade encryption
    • Tumbleweed Secure Transport is certified by National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST)
  • iOra/Infonic builds compressed files based on the data set
    • The compressed amendment files are made up of the changes to the data set. If the files were to be captured and decrypted, the only salvageable data would be encrypted 256 byte chunks of random, unintelligible data.
  • The data is transported over Unclassified Trusted Network (UTN) Protect Policy compliant Port 443
    • The data transferred among Distance Support Servers will pass through any DoD or NMCI firewall that is UTN compliant. Secure Transport uses true SSL which will traverse proxy firewalls.
  • Amendment Server Architecture is a trusted third party data transfer agent
    • The Amendment Server System is utilized as a trusted third party data transfer agent. If the Amendment Server were to get hacked, only compressed iOra amendments would be obtainable.
    • All Distance Support infrastructure components are protected from incoming traffic by firewalls. Infrastructure servers reach out to the Amendment Server System to conduct data transfers.          Back to Top

What is the Content Health Indicator Tool (CHIT)?

The Content Health Indicator Tool (CHIT) provides system administrators onboard ship a visual device to estimate the current NIAPS replication health.  CHIT is comprised of two main parts:

  1. CHIT web - CHIT web provides the display to the user as accessed from any page on the NIAPS Distance Support Portal

  2. CHIT executable - The executable is called via a scheduled task every hour to evaluate the last data available on replication as generated by the DS_Update_Program and compares this to publication information available from the replication client.

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What is the Health and Monitoring System (HAMS)?

The Health and Monitoring System (HAMS) is a shore-based, proprietary application developed by NSWC Crane that captures, stores and displays replication related data from all fleet platforms that have NIAPS.  The type of data HAMS monitors and can display includes:

  • Date and times of replication
  • Amendment levels
  • Publications on a given platform
  • System information including:
    • Hard drive space
    • Hardware specifications
    • Installed software and more

The replication data that is captured is made viewable on a CAC enabled website.  Access to this site allows interested parties the ability to monitor NIAPS replication of a product to a specific platform from a remote location.  Access to HAMS is controlled.  The process of getting access to HAMS can be initiated through their NIAPS Customer Advocate.          Back to Top


What differentiates CHIT and HAMS?

The Content Health Indicator Tool (CHIT) only provides visibility of data replication for a specific ship or hull platform.  CHIT is ship unique and is accessible only from onboard the ship or hull platform.  The Health and Monitoring System (HAMS) provides visibility of data replication across all ship or hull platforms and can be accessed remotely through a CAC enabled website.           Back to Top


What is a "publication" as it relates to replication?

Publications are comprised of web based content, training materials, ship manuals, technical drawings, human resource data, sensor data, and other data intended to reside on NIAPS.  Publications consist of the base information loaded by NSWC Crane onto the server NIAPS rides on.  Amendments (changes to the base data) would not be possible without publications (base data).  See the FAQ "What is an "amendment" as it relates to replication?" for more.          Back to Top


What is an "amendment" as it relates to replication?

Amendments are comprised of changes to web based content, training materials, ship manuals, technical drawings, human resource data, sensor data and other data intended to reside on NIAPS.  Basically, amendments are highly compressed files that are only readable by the NIAPS system. Amendments are always uploaded from ship to shore, but only critical and important priority amendments are downloaded automatically from shore to NIAPS (like IAVA security patches).  Amendments are distributed to all ship and hull platforms that have NIAPS on them through amendment servers (a.k.a Knowledge Management Centers). Amendments can also be distributed to a specific platform via CD/DVD if needed.

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