Survey Manual

600.3 - Networking of Computing Resources

This chapter establishes the policy and procedures for the networking of computing resources in the U.S. Geological Survey.


OPR: Information Systems Division

1. Purpose. This chapter establishes the policy and procedures for the networking of computing resources in the U.S. Geological Survey.

2. Definitions.

A. Computing Resources. Computing resources include computing and communication devices (mainframes, minicomputers, personal computers, word processors, modems, multiplexers, etc.), information resources (files, data bases, information systems, etc.), and computing environments (word processing, data processing, scientific processing, office systems, communication systems, etc.).

B. International Standards Organization (ISO) Open System Interconnection (OSI) Model. The ISO/OSI Model provides guidelines for the implementation of distributed systems software and consists of seven levels of functionality that a distributed architecture must include: application, presentation, session, transport, network, data link, and physical.

C. Local Area Network (LAN). A LAN is a network that is limited in geographical and organizational scope, provides a transport mechanism connecting independent computing devices and other information resources, and provides functional capabilities to the citizens of the network.

D. Private Automatic Branch Exchange (PABX). A PABX is a private switching system that provides communications between internal stations and exterior networks. At the USGS National Center in Reston, Virginia and in the USGS buildings in Menlo Park, California, the PABX is a digital switch and functions simultaneously as a voice telephone switch and a computer data communications switch.

E. Telecommunications Advisory Committee (TAC). The TAC is a subcommittee of the Information Systems Council whose function is to evaluate options, recommend policy, provide guidelines, and act as the coordinator and Bureauwide forum for interdivisional telecommunications activities of the USGS. The committee consists of a representative and alternate from each division (or equivalent).

F. Wide Area Network (WAN). A WAN is a long distance telecommunications system. At the USGS, the role of the WAN is to provide telecommunications linkage of geographically dispersed computing devices. The current generation of WAN systems also offers some application level capability; for example, electronic mail service. The primary USGS WAN is GEONET.

3. Networking Policy. USGS policy is:

A. To encourage and promote the use of networking technology to integrate computing and information resources. The creation of application-oriented distributed systems is the practical design goal. The theoretical goal is the connectivity of USGS information resources into a network of information resources.

B. To ensure that the potential benefits of networking are actually achieved by the USGS.

C. To ensure that all policies and standards established by the Department are followed by the USGS.

4. Networking Procedures.

A. Procurement of New Computing Resources. The USGS System Life Cycle Management (SLCM) process (Survey Manual Chapter 501.1) specifies that communications technology must be considered when computing resources are being selected. The following is to be explicitly specified in the procurement documentation:

(1) Integration with other devices in the environment.

(2) Sharing of the resource.

(3) Participating in a network.

(4) Interfacing and integration with existing or planned PABX, LAN, and GEONET systems.

B. New Networks.

(1) When a new network is planned, consideration must be given to the relationship of the planned network to existing or planned PABXs, LANs, GEONET, and other telecommunications systems. In any new network procurement plan, the design must explicitly address the interface of the network with existing telecommunications systems. Even when a new network is to function independently as a dedicated subnetwork, a logical and physical interface with the existing USGS telecommunications systems must be technically feasible and specified, although this interface may remain an unimplemented option if no demand for such interface exists at the present time.

(2) LAN implementations should strive to provide capability at the highest appropriate level of the ISO/OSI model. In particular, this means striving for application level functionality rather than simply lower level transport capability.

5. Network Responsibilities.

A. Standards Adoption. The USGS has adopted the ISO/OSI reference model as its theoretical telecommunications architecture. The Telecommunications Advisory Committee (TAC) will define acceptable sets of standard protocols which will be required throughout the various telecommunications environments in the Survey. The sets of standards will be reviewed as a part of the annual telecommunications planning process. New procurements must conform to the accepted sets of standards.

B. Network Planning. The TAC will develop long-range networking goals and intermediate steps to achieve these goals. Planning will be done in conjunction with the USGS program planning cycle and the Departmental ADP and telecommunications planning process. Annually, the divisions will review their current and future networking needs, and the TAC will modify the long-range goals and intermediate steps appropriately. As part of the annual review, divisions will examine stand-alone networks to determine whether they should continue to be independent or should be integrated into larger consolidated networks.

C. Network Procurement. The degree of formality and management attention required depends upon the designation of the system type as documented in the USGS SLCM policy described in SM 501.1D. Networking proposals will be given a preliminary review by the Information Systems Division (ISD) to ensure that interfaces with existing or planned networking activities have been specified. If the cost of a network exceeds Departmental thresholds, the ISD will act as the liaison between the Department and the Division during the Departmental approval process. On a regular basis, a bureauwide review of the state of LAN technology will be performed by ISD and reported to the TAC.