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Missile defense research portal created

The Missile Defense Agency, a unit of the Pentagon, says it is building an intranet to streamline and accelerate missile defense development, research and testing.

The Missile Defense Agency, a unit of the Pentagon, said Monday that it is building an intranet to streamline and accelerate missile defense development, research and testing.

The customized portal, created with Plumtree Software applications, gives hundreds of government and military researchers access to vast amounts of classified data on missile shield testing collected over more than the last decade.

Previously, scientists and military personnel involved in missile defense projects had to travel to three different libraries in Alabama, Colorado and Tennessee to obtain information critical to their research, such as electronic data gathered by radars that track the path of missiles during tests, according to Steve Waugh, deputy chief information officer at MDA.

The portal, which the MDA began setting up in December, makes data from each library accessible from the researchers' desktops for the first time through a Web browser.

"Before the portal, it took weeks and weeks to get access to information," said Waugh. "Now you can get it in the same day. That's a big change in the way people work."

To ensure the security of classified data, the intranet is not connected to the public Internet, said Waugh. It is run over a private network run by the Department of Defense that requires highly guarded encryption, user authorization and security procedures.

In addition, the Plumtree applications can be set up to grant different levels of access to internal users. Every section of the intranet, for instance, has an access control list to ensure people only see what they're allowed to see, said Bob Carter, public sector director at Plumtree.

Many large private sector businesses, including Ford, Procter & Gamble and American Airlines, use Plumtree to make corporate information and applications easier to use and more accessible to their employees and business partners. Government agencies are becoming increasingly interested in the software, said Carter. The State Department, Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force, Navy and Army National Guard are all using the product.