DISA beefing up info grid

Officials at the Defense Information Systems Agency plan to buy more equipment next month for the Defense Department's global information network, which will provide on-

demand information to warfighters, policymakers and support personnel.

DISA officials hope to buy digital cross-connect equipment from Sprint and Sycamore Networks Inc.; IP routers from Juniper Networks Inc.; multiservice provisioning platform technology from Cisco Systems Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc.; and optical transport system equipment from Ciena Corp.

Last December, the Office of the Secretary of Defense authorized DISA to buy

30 percent of the equipment for the Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion program. GIG-BE will connect about 90 sites worldwide with fiber-optic cables and a computer system that will allow warfighters and analysts to quickly access, receive and send data and intelligence.

During the past five months, officials at DOD's Joint Interoperability Test Command conducted certification, interoperability and security testing of the hardware installed at the program's first six sites, said Anthony Montemarano, DISA's GIG-BE program director.

Successful testing of the equipment will let DISA buy another 30 percent of the hardware in early June, Montemarano said. Officials will conduct more tests in September, which will allow the agency to purchase the remaining hardware later this year, he added.

"It's test a little, buy a little, test a little, buy a little," Montemarano said. "This is a strategy we feel is very prudent and effective."

Agency officials initially received criticism for seeking large information technology companies to supply GIG-BE equipment. However, Sycamore, a small developer of optical switches that is based in Chelmsford, Mass., supplies a key component for the program, Montemarano said.

"We're very proud of that," he said. "And they have a real classy box."

In April, command officials finished testing Sycamore's SN 16000 and SN 3000 intelligent optical switching platforms and SILVX network management system.

"Sycamore's switches continue to set the performance standard for advanced networking capabilities including port-by-port support for diverse protection options, advanced control plane standards and a wide range of service interfaces," said Kevin Oye, the company's vice president of systems and technology.

The GIG-BE equipment work also boosted Sycamore's third-quarter fiscal 2004 revenue. The company posted revenue of $14.7 million, compared to $10.6 million last year, according to a company statement.

"Sycamore's third-quarter financial results reflect initial purchases of our optical switches for the GIG-BE project," said Daniel Smith, the company's president and chief executive officer.

Montemarano carefully chose his words to describe why Juniper Networks beat out Cisco for the hotly contested GIG-BE IP router work. "Juniper provided the best value solution for the GIG-BE program requirement," he said.

Value consists of cost and performance, Montemarano said. He would not say DISA officials chose Juniper over Cisco because the former builds a better IP router.

"Value consists of meeting or exceeding program requirements, viability of the company and cost," said Dubhe Beinhorn, senior vice president of Juniper Federal Systems, based in Herndon, Va.

When asked if the company underbid its IP router costs to get the GIG-BE work, Beinhorn said, "Juniper does not enter into deals that do not serve the financial interests of the company or its stockholders."

The company posted a first-quarter 2004 revenue of $224.1 million, compared to $157.2 million for the same period last year, according to a company statement. The report did not attribute the 43 percent revenue increase to GIG-BE equipment work.

The military will start using GIG-BE at six to 10 sites in October. DISA officials call the introduction "Octoberfest."

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