SMAC Data, Pulsar Data team for fed business

SMAC Data Systems announced recently that it will team with Pulsar Data Systems Inc. to pursue federal opportunities. Both companies have cut their teeth on federal business and are betting that their combined experience in the market will give them an edge over some formidable competition from bigger-name manufacturers and integrators.

The agreement means that the full spectrum of SMAC computers will be available through Pulsar's General Services Administration schedule. The two companies also will partner on the delivery of hardware services and support on many federal deals. Those inroads may be just the break SMAC needs to try to position itself to compete with hardware giants such as Dell Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Gateway 2000 Inc. Federal Market Expansion

"By all indications SMAC is growing and it seems to me that getting on Pulsar's GSA schedule is going to be a good way for SMAC to increase their penetration of the federal market " predicted Payton Smith a research analyst with IDC Government Falls Church Va.

Smith added that Pulsar's marketing and sales experience also will work to SMAC's advantage under the arrangement. Without naming names SMAC president Ashok Mehan recounted rumored dissatisfaction between Pulsar and some of its big-name hardware suppliers a factor which led to the partnership he said.

"Pulsar had an alliance with a popular supplier and they were not very happy with that arrangement for several reasons. Basically it boiled down to the fact that the supplier did not understand the government marketplace," Mehan said.

In that regard SMAC has a good base of knowledge to offer Pulsar the company said. The Gaithersburg Md.-based company is included on high-visibility governmentwide acquisition contracts such as the National Institutes of Health's Electronic Computer Store (ECS) II contract and NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement II pact.

SMAC also retains a place among GSA's Federal Acquisition Services for Technology program. "What Pulsar saw in us was a real subcontractor rather than a supplier " Mehan said.

"We have the pricing models required to be successful among federal agencies " he said.

Pulsar president Bill Davis agreed. "The federal government buys based on price performance and best value. Knowing that I wanted to do some experimenting " with suppliers he said. Davis' urge to experiment occurred just as he was "starting to see some of SMAC's boxes appear at customer services sites and began hearing about the quality of those products."

Rolin Hua SMAC vice president of corporate development said the relationship with Pulsar "signifies that an up-and-coming company like SMAC and a proven company like Pulsar can still find benefits in a relationship that can bring an even higher level of services to the federal government " Hua said. "Relationships like this don't just happen they must have a reason to happen."

Mentor-Protege Although many of those reasons are of course economic the two companies are proclaiming the partnership a learning opportunity especially for SMAC which has just begun its tenure in the Small Business Administration's 8(a) program. "I think we have a lot to gain from this relationship " Mehan said. "Pulsar has been around for a while and in fact just graduated from the 8(a) program which we just entered." Mehan - fresh from a conference held recently on DOD's Mentor-Protege program - said the partnership signals a new trend in contractor pairing.

"At that conference there was a message to graduating or graduated companies that they should begin mentoring " he said. Such arrangements are becoming more common said Janet Koch assistant deputy director for economic and business programs within DOD's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business.

"One of the things we have seen occurring is an increase in the frequency of protege-to-protege mentoring " Koch said. "In many cases these are between firms which have benefited from small business programs and are forming alliances that can enhance both their opportunities and their ability to perform on requirements."

SMAC enjoys a formal mentor-protege arrangement with Unisys Corp. under the DOD program. "There is no conflict there " Pulsar's Davis said. While Unisys works with SMAC as a mentor on DOD systems requirements "We will complement them in the marketing and other skills they will need to grow."

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