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Floating a solution

Bringing fault tolerant communications to naval ships. By Steve Cook.

Some Navy ships still take part in battle, including destroyers, torpedo boats and submarines – the most lethal weapon in a nation's arsenal. But battleships no longer stand toe to toe and slug it out in the contest for supremacy at sea.

So, while ships may not be in as much direct danger, the potential to sustain expensive damage remains real. And, quite unlike the battleships of the early 20th century, today's vessels are equipped with complex communications networks that encircle the ships and are central not only to the operation of the ship but which also provide the means of relaying important information back to land. These networks must provide highly available and robust reliability within the cost and size constraints of a modern battleship.

On ship networks currently use system redundancies that guarantee maximum network uptime, even in the event of a physical or logical failure somewhere in the network. But redundant systems are expensive and introduce a level of complexity that is both difficult to develop and maintain.

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Graham Pitcher

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