Reporting from the Nordic HF Conference – New HF ALE (Automatic Link Establishment)

Isode CEO, Steve Kille, is attending, presenting at and reporting from the Nordic HF Conference (HF 16) on the island of Faro, Sweden.

Professor Eric Johnson led Wednesday morning’s session with an excellent presentation on new ALE work, called 4G ALE or Wideband ALE (Wideband ALE – The next generation of HF). This was followed by a presentation by Harris on preliminary measurements. Eric noted the importance of work in this area to support new WBHF and to reduce setup times. This is key technology for HF.

This work is being done by US DoD, with support from key US vendors (in particular Harris and Rockwell Collins). I asked when details of this work might be made available, and the answer was “not clear” and perhaps end of next year. This will likely be at the point when the work is published as a US Mil Spec. Then it will be shared with the rest of the world, and presented as a fait accompli for NATO to standardise. This may be a good way to achieve a solid standard. However, it feels to be locking out non-US involvement and giving unfair competitive advantage to US vendors.

Reporting from the Nordic HF Conference – Wide Band HF

Isode CEO, Steve Kille, is attending, presenting at and reporting from the Nordic HF Conference (HF 16) on the island of Faro, Sweden.

WBHF is a key new development, and there were two good papers at Nordic HF on measurements during Session 2 on Monday.

Vivianne Jodalen, Terje Mikal Mjelde and William M. Batts reported on measurements made in the arctic (Wideband HF in the Arctic) and measurements made across the Atlantic (Performance of a transatlantic long-haul wideband HF system).

The good news is that a range of successful measurements were made in over-the-air environments. The practical results suggest that 6kHz channels (wider than 3 kHz narrowband) can often be achieved, but it was often not possible to realise the maximum of 24kHz. Throughput was generally quite a bit less than the “top end”.

While this is useful information and gives performance much better than narrow band, it is a long way short of the top end 120 kbps. I think there is a real risk that people have been over-sold WBHF and will be disappointed with the reality. This would be a pity, as it offers useful improvements.

NITEC16 and Harrier (Web)

NITEC is the annual flagship event of the NATO Communications and Information Agency, organised this year in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence, Estonia.

NITEC is both a conference and an exhibition and this year Isode took a small exhibition stand to show demonstrations of a wide range of our server and messaging software. NITEC was also the first public outing of the web-based version of our Harrier military messaging client.

Our demonstration setup (illustrated below) showed email, text chat and forms data exchange between two domains, using different security policies over a constrained network link.

Isode demonstration setup for NITEC

The constrained network link was simulated using MoRaSky, an Isode test tool which emulates (HF) Modems, Radios and Sky (Ionosphere).

Attendees were shown security label mapping and conversion, clearance‐based message control in email, 1:1 chat and multi‐user chat using Isode’s message clients (Swift for XMPP & Harrier for Email) and servers (M‐Switch & M‐Link).

NITEC was the first public showing of Harrier (Web)

NITEC proved to be a great source of feedback on Isode products, especially Harrier, and we’re looking forward to incorporating that feedback into future versions of Harrier and future demonstrations.

R16.4 Preview Release

We’re pleased to announce that a preview release, R16.4, is now available.

This preview release will be mostly of interest to military users. It will enable the evaluation of a number of new ACP127 and BRASS capabilities.

The following BRASS features are in R16.4.

  • ACP127 Broadcast. Including operation over serial and non-ARQ COSS, ship and shore sides, and NATO and Italian RECAP messages, automatic retransmission requests/retransmission, and two minute messages.
  • Ship to Shore. Configuration of separate ship to shore circuits is added.
  • Off The Air Monitoring (OTAM). The OTAM process can compare the transmit and receive data streams. If they vary by more than a configurable amount (i.e., corresponding to a bit error rate on the received stream) then the OTAM process will flag this to a management process.
  • Serial Line support. Support for serial hubs such as Digi Portserver TS. The ACP127 data can be sent direct to modem allowing broadcast with or without the use of a 5066 server.
  • Support for Recap messages and retransmission allowing lost messages to be sent successfully.

The new ACP127 management features are:

  • Mconsole has a new Circuit Monitoring View, that enables useful monitoring of ACP127 traffic. This also provides the ability to take over the stream manually.
  • Mconsole has a new ACP127 Message Transfer View allowing the operator to view ACP127 messages currently queued for transfer out
  • Mconsole has a new OTAM monitoring GUI.

Support for the following ACP127 Variants has been added.

  • ACP128 support.
  • ACP126 support.
  • DOI-103 support.
  • DOI-103s support.
  • ACP 126 support.
  • Janap 128 support.
  • BSG support.

R16.4 is currently available on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, 7 (64 bit) including CentOS equivalents, Windows Server 2008 R2 (64 bit), Windows 2012 and Windows 2012 R2. Debian Linux 8 64-bit will be added in a subsequent update to R16.4.

R16.4 will be supported until the release of our next major release (R17.0) and is for test and demonstration systems only, we will not support running R16.4 in a production environment.

If you wish to obtain a copy of the R16.4 preview release contact us at customer-service@isode.com.

Draft & Release for Military Messaging: An Open, Online Approach

In military communications, messages are frequently sent to organizations (e.g., a Command) rather than to an individual or to a role.

The receiving organization will process the message using a Profiler, which looks at meta-information (such as a Subject Indicator Code “SIC”) in the message in order to dispatch it to the appropriate recipient. This process of examination and dispatch is known as draft and release and is, today, mostly done using a mix of paper and online systems. A number of deployments have sought to introduce entirely online systems for draft and release but the approaches used in those deployments all have weaknesses.

In a new whitepaper on the Isode website, “Open Online Draft & Release“, Isode proposes a new open standards based approach to online draft and release, combining the best practices of existing systems with capabilities for message review which can be used independent of draft and release.