Vendors add Pentiums, desktops to Army pacts
- By Bob Brewin
- May 19, 1996
ORLANDO, Fla.—Vendors vying for a piece of the $300 million-plus Army PC market kicked off the summer selling season last week, introducing upgrades to all the key standard contracts managed by the Army's Small Computer Program (SCP). The vendors unveiled the new product lineups at the SCP's semi-annual Product Status Review conference here.
Products introduced for Army users included Pentium 100 MHz notebooks from Compaq Computer Corp. for the Portable-1 contract held by Government Technology Services Inc. and a line of Pentium PCs from IBM Corp. that Sysorex Information Systems Inc. has added to its PC-1 contract.
Lt. Col. Mary Fuller, the SCP product manager, emphasized the mobility demands of today's Army in her opening remarks at the conference, and the two vendors who hold the Portable-1 contracts introduced new products that meet that requirement.
GTSI displayed a Compaq notebook, a sleek black machine that a Compaq sales rep slammed shut when a reporter approached. Compaq has yet to formally introduce the product.
FCW learned that GTSI/Compaq have proposed adding two new Compaq Pentium 100s to the Portable-1 contract. The proposed Modular Notebook is user-configurable with a wide variety of options, including up to three batteries and a CD-ROM drive.
The product weighs from 4 to 7 pounds, depending on the options. GTSI/Compaq also plan to offer a Value Notebook with a 10.4-inch CSTN display, 32-bit PC local bus graphics, 1M of video RAM, an 810M hard drive and 8M of RAM expandable to 24M.
Patty Bortz, the GTSI PC-1 manager, said this upgrade from 486 to Pentium technology would come at no cost to the Army. "We're going to sell Pentiums for the $2,048 contract pie.... This is a great deal for the Army, and it's a name-brand product."
Tom Conway, the national accounts manager, Army, for International Data Products Corp., which holds the competing Portable-1 contract, estimated that his company has sold 11,000 notebooks to date, for a total value of $30 million, while GTSI/Compaq have sold 8,000 units, with a value of $28 million.
Conway said IDP already offers a Pentium 75 MHz notebook for $2,047 on Portable-1 and wins the horsepower race with a Pentium 133 MHz upgrade. Just like the proposed GTSI/Compaq Pentium, IDP's notebook comes complete with an internal CD-ROM drive.
Chris O'Connor, IDP's Portable-1 product manager, said IDP has proposed an engineering change that would allow it to offer different processors under the first contract line-item number of Portable-1.
The two vendors that hold the Army's PC-1 contract, Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Sysorex, beefed up their product lines, with Sysorex switching to an all-IBM solution from the Micron Corp. PCs it offered last year.
Tony Byrd, Sysorex's national account executive for the Defense Department, said the Sysorex PC-1 product line starts with an IBM model PC-350 with a Pentium 100 MHz chip, 8M of RAM, 1M of video RAM, a 1.2G drive and a 15-inch monitor priced at $1,925. The same system with 16M of RAM, 2M of video RAM and a CD-ROM drive sells for $2,391. The company also offers a system with a similar configuration powered by a Pentium 133 MHz chip for $2,699.
EDS also upgraded its PC-1 offerings to an all-Pentium solution, according to Doug Roberts, the company's director of business development. DOD suppliers need to ride the technology wave and offer follow-on service because, while organizations such as the Army want to buy PCs as a commodity, "they operate in a demanding environment," Roberts said.
A Low-End PC
At the low end of its line, EDS offers a Pentium 75 MHz PC with 16M of memory, 1M of video RAM, a 1.2G drive and a 15-inch monitor for $1,899. EDS sells a Pentium 133 MHz PC in a similar configuration with a 1.6G drive for $2,349.
Telos Corp., which holds the Small Multiuser Computer II (SMC-II) contract, has already upgraded its Zenith Data Systems server hardware and now plans to concentrate on turning the contract "into the premier network vehicle for the government," according to M. David Balleweg, Telos' SMC-II program manager.
Telos has proposed more than 40 contract modifications to meet this goal, Balleweg said. These include a full suite of products from Cisco Systems Inc., Newbridge Networks and Bay Networks Inc.
"Users are looking for network components, and we're in a good position to help not only the Army but all of the federal government, since any agency can use SMC-II," Balleweg said.
Fuller said these contracts, as well as others SCP manages, such as Desktop Video, offer "total solutions for today's office. We also have solutions that will allow you to take your office anywhere."