DISA to tap updated I-CASE pact

Once hampered by outmoded technology, the Integrated Computer-Aided Software Engineering contract, held by Logicon Inc., is being revamped with new offerings and may be tapped as the key buying vehicle for commercial software products to be used in command and control systems.

The Defense Information Systems Agency is considering I-CASE to provide commercial software components for the Defense Information Infrastructure's (DII) Common Operating Environment. COE has been specified as a requirement for systems deployed under the Global Command and Control System and the Global Combat Support System—the key building blocks in DOD's command and control environment.

Air Force Lt. Col. Ronald Casey, the I-CASE program manager, said his program office has been talking to DISA's Joint Interoperability and Engineering Organization to ensure that I-CASE offerings reflect the latest COE-supported configurations. Although DISA has yet to anoint I-CASE as the official COE software source, "we would hope to be [DISA's] main vehicle of choice for COE," Casey said.

This would be a windfall for Logicon, which could generate sales of $60 million to $150 million a year on I-CASE as new COE-compliant software products are added, sources close to the I-CASE deal said. Logicon would not comment on the company's 1995 I-CASE sales. But the company in 1995 was chiefly involved in fielding I-CASE pilots—a phase of the program reportedly worth about $25 million.

In recent months DISA has designated a number of commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software products as COE-compliant. COE is DISA's attempt to advance hardware and software standards across DOD systems.

DISA's roster of COE-compliant products includes Oracle Corp.'s Oracle7 database, Sybase Inc.'s System10, Applix Inc.'s Unix-based office products, Transarc Corp.'s Distributed Computing Environment products, SunSoft Inc.'s Solaris, Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP/UX and TriTeal Corp.'s Common Desktop Environment. I-CASE already carries the Oracle and Sybase database packages and the SunSoft and HP operating systems. Logicon is negotiating to get Transarc and Applix on I-CASE and is close to getting TriTeal on the contract, according to Vince Steckler, manager of I-CASE marketing and sales at Logicon.

Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator World Wide Web browser is another COE product. But Logicon may not carry Navigator because it is readily available to the government through other vehicles, Steckler said.

I-CASE's evolving role in COE could help rejuvenate the contract, which has been restructured over the past few months.

I-CASE was originally intended to provide Ada-oriented integrated CASE systems to automate DOD "software factories."

But because that approach is no longer popular, I-CASE has been retooled to reflect a wider scope of development approaches (see related story, page 66).

"Intuitively, it seems [COE] would be a significant part of our contract," Casey said. He added that it would difficult to project just how big a boost COE would provide.

I-CASE: Natural Source for COE

Steckler said I-CASE's pricing and flexibility make it a natural source for COE products. The renewed I-CASE is designed to beat General Services Administration schedule pricing and offer the most recent version of the software on the contract. I-CASE also offers enterprise licensing as an option, which other software contracts do not, Steckler said.

Casey said I-CASE could help make COE products de facto standards "by providing the best pricing and most flexibility for people" looking to buy COE products.

The COE-related market also has caught the attention of product vendors and the systems integrators who team with them on contracts.

One software vendor reported increased interest from the major integrators since the COE list was compiled. A DII document describing COE and listing some of the approved products is available via the Internet at http://spider.ims.disa.mil/dii/appenda.html.

DII's COE product list is not mandatory, but "this gives [prime contractors] a cheat sheet, if you will," the vendor said.

COE Gets Sybase on RCAS

COE apparently played a part in landing Sybase's database software on the National Guard Bureau's Reserve Component Automation System, which was recently revamped. "Since we were on the DII COE [list], it helped our posture," said a Sybase executive, who requested anonymity.

RCAS does not yet require COE, but the National Guard Bureau has said it is being considered.

Gary O'Shaughnessy, executive director of business development for command, control, communications and computers at Oracle Government Systems, said his company has benefited from the COE listing. "It gives us visibility and credibility in the face of our prime contractors that we partner with," he said.

Oracle Government, he added, has personnel on-site at Oracle's corporate development center in California to make sure the company's products reflect specifications such as COE.

However, COE's market impact will be lessened over time, according to another vendor on the list. "The purpose of COE is to provide a solution from a Plug-and-Play perspective in an open architecture," the vendor said.

As such, COE locks in technology requirements, not products. "What they are saying is, `Here is a product that meets our requirements.' That's not to say anybody couldn't come into the market two years from now and do the same thing," the vendor said.

The DII document identifies two basic COE platforms: HP's HP 700 Series, running the HP-UX operating system, and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s SPARC Series, running the Solaris operating system.

Supported Products

Each platform supports a configuration of seven additional products: X-Window and Motif user interfaces, Unix-based office automation from Applix, database software from Oracle and Sybase, and Web browsers from Netscape and Mosaic. The SPARC configuration also includes NewsPrint, a Sun print utility.

In addition to the software being on I-CASE—or being added to it—DISA is also working to add to COE Windows NT and Windows 95 from Microsoft Corp. and Intel-based Unix system software from The Santa Cruz Operation Inc., according to the DII document.

The list is expected to evolve as more products are tested and approved.

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