SGI to get COE go-ahead

Silicon Graphics Inc. a mainstay in battlefield visualization expects next month to have its Unix workstations certified as compliant with the Defense Department's Common Operating Environment (COE) company officials said.

To ensure interoperability across the command and control environment DOD has mandated that C2 and other critical systems be compliant with the Defense Information Infrastructure COE.

The COE certification - overseen by the Defense Information Systems Agency - will clear the way for SGI to be added to the Navy's Tactical Advanced Computer-Joint Workstation (TAC-JW) program and to compete on other DOD procurements that also require the COE stamp of approval.

"With DOD mandating COE for the workstation business this is very important for us to maintain our customer base " said Bill Douglas a federal business development manager at SGI.

The certification covers SGI workstations running its Irix 6.2 Unix operating system. However the company immediately plans to put Irix versions 6.3 and 6.4 through testing as well.

With the certification process for the first system nearing an end SGI already is submitting its proposal for a TAC-JW blanket purchase agreement. The Navy passed over SGI in the first round of BPA awards because it lacked certification. SGI said COE certification also would play a role in several upcoming procurements but it would not identify the programs.

SGI's workstations are used widely for graphics-intensive C2 applications in the Air Force and the Army. For example the company's Onyx systems were deployed as part of the Army's Force XXI Advanced Warfighting Experiment to handle battlefield visualization.

But with the increased focus on COE compliance some DOD customers "were getting in trouble because they were using a non-COE platform " Douglas said.

Edgemark Systems Inc. one of SGI's primary resellers in the federal market also welcomes the upcoming certification. "For SGI and Edgemark the COE certification means we are on equal footing with all of the other workstation vendors " said Lee Raesly Edgemark's vice president.

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