Microsoft's new market

Software giant wants a piece of DOD interoperability dollars

Officials at Microsoft Federal want military and industry officials to know that the company does more for the Defense Department than just sell and support the company's Windows operating system and Office software suite.

Microsoft has launched a public relations campaign to highlight the role of the company's products in the military's data-sharing and network-centric warfare operations.

The push for visibility is part of their determination to pursue new work in major military programs, including the multibillion-dollar Net-Centric Enterprise Services contract and Air and Space Operations Center Weapon System Integrator contract.

"DOD's current use of Microsoft technology is extensive and is demonstrating success in a growing number of mission- critical applications for warfighting and business processes," said Bob Dees, executive director of defense strategies at Microsoft Federal.

Microsoft officials spent $28 billion on research and development in the past seven years and will spend $40 billion on it in the next six years with an emphasis on interoperability, said Mike Bradshaw, director of DOD accounts at Microsoft Federal.

Dees said Microsoft's R&D spending helped company officials develop products that aid data sharing in five military systems. They are the Army's Information Dissemination Management-Tactical (IDM-T) and Deployed Theater Accountability Software, the Navy-Marine Corps Mobilization Processing System and the Air Force's Single Integrated Space Picture and Synchronized Air Power Management (SAPM) systems.

Dees, a retired Army two-star general who joined Microsoft in 2003, highlighted IDM-T as a system helping soldiers in their operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The software architecture lets commanders and soldiers easily find information in the Army Battle Command System, the service's network of 11 applications that provides warfighting data such as intelligence, weather updates and information about artillery stocks.

"IDM-T provides the disadvantaged warfighter a tailorable application to access, transport and manage command and control products over existing communications," said Dees, who previously commanded soldiers in Korea and Europe.

IDM-T uses Microsoft's Server 2003, SQL 2000 and SharePoint Portal. "It [gives] a capability to filter and push products to all users using a simplified portal," he said.

Dees said SAPM was a demonstration project showing that old and new military systems can operate in a network-centric environment. He said the project dramatically reduced the amount of time and people needed for air mission planning.

"It allowed commanders to focus on art-of-war decisions," Dees said.

SAPM used Microsoft's Visual Studio.NET and Windows XP products to speed up the planning and execution of air missions. With the system, commanders could perform such tasks in two hours instead of five, he said.

Gene Bergmeier, deputy program manager for the Air Force's Mission Planning Enterprise Contract in Lockheed Martin's Integrated Systems and Solutions business unit, worked with Microsoft on SAPM. He said the company's products performed well in the demonstration.

"The company has a portfolio of products that show net-centric operations are not just a vision but a reality," he said.

Dees said Microsoft follows a simple policy for interoperability. "Support customers' needs for software that works well with what they have today," he said.

New business opportunities

Microsoft officials will adhere to that strategy in pursuing work on the Net-Centric Enterprise Services contract. The $10 billion initiative will give warfighters access to military and intelligence networks by customizing searches and combining intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data to target and attack enemies.

Company officials may also participate in the Air Force's Air and Space Operations Center Weapon System Integrator contract. Under the $2 billion deal, a vendor will manage and update the hardware and software at 17 air and space operations centers worldwide. Military employees at the centers use many of Microsoft's products.

"We see a convergence in business, warfighting and intelligence systems," Dees said, explaining that DOD officials need software to bring those systems together.

Marcus Fedeli, manager of federal opportunity products at Input, an independent think tank that analyzes the IT market, said Microsoft officials' strategy to pursue military interoperability contracts does not surprise him, especially with $12 billion available in the two DOD initiatives.

"The company helped pioneer the home PC," he said. "It now wants to help innovate the government's and the military's computer systems."

Microsoft makeover

Microsoft officials want to spread the word that the company offers more than the Office software suite and the Windows operating system. They said the company's products also improve interoperability in the military's major warfighting and business information technology systems.

The systems include:

  • Information Dissemination Management-Tactical — an Army communications system that distributes and displays warfighting information to soldiers and commanders.

  • Deployed Theater Accountability Software — an Army human resources system that tracks military and civilian employees in combat environments.

  • Navy-Marine Corps Mobilization Processing System — Navy human resources system that tracks sailors and streamlines Navy Reserve order writing.

  • Single Integrated Space Picture — Air Force system that shows the locations of friendly and enemy forces.

  • Synchronized Air Power Management — Air Force project that demonstrated last year how using Extensible Markup Language Web services reduces the time and number of people needed for air mission planning.

— Frank Tiboni

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