TechNet focuses on better communications

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Industry vendors displayed a wide range of new technology at the TechNet '98 Conference, sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, ranging from Defense-specific solutions to commercial products. But the focus clearly was on better communications.

"Interoperability Days"

Lockheed Martin Corp., the Defense contractor responsible for the development of many of the military's command and control systems, announced that in July it would hold its first "Project Rainbow Interoperability Days" exposition, which will showcase the company's efforts to bridge the interoperability gap between various command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) systems.

Project Rainbow is an internally funded project that Lockheed Martin hopes will improve interoperability, collaboration and reuse among various C4I systems developed by the company. "The project is a springboard that will allow different customers to work together. We're using various techniques to help C4I systems bridge the gap to Joint Vision 2010," a company spokes-man said. Joint Vision 2010 is a DOD effort to create seamless battlefield communications across the services.

Project Rainbow has been in existence for more than a year and is focused on the research and development of what one company official called "the golden BB," which will allow one system fix to set in motion a ricochet effect throughout the C4I arena, leading to full interoperability across all the systems.

C4I systems taking part in Project Rainbow include the Global Command and Control System, the Army Combat Terrain Information System, the Air Force Contingency Theater Automated Planing System, the Defense Message System, the Global Transport Network, the Army Maneuver Control System, the Global Command and Control System-Army, the Navy Advanced Tomahawk Weapons Control System, the Army All Source Analysis System, the Air Force Mission Support System, the Army War-fighter's Simulation 2000 and the Global Combat Support System-Air Force.

The announcement follows a General Accounting Office report earlier this year that blasted the Defense Department for failing to ensure interoperability among its C4I systems. GAO outlined problems that the agency said could lead to "loss of life."

Wide-Area Network Access

Network Equipment Technologies Inc. introduced a product designed for smaller offices that want to consolidate voice, video and data applications on one system. An addition to NET's Promina 800 Series of multiple-service access platforms, the new Promina 100 can connect an office to a variety of wide-area network services, which include frame relay, Integrated Services Digital Network, leased lines, standard telephone service and Asynchronous Transfer Mode.

"The Promina 100 is for the branch office location where you have in the low dozens of connections into the wide area," said Craig Forbes, product line manager at NET. "The small footprint— the [box] is about the size of a desktop PC— is important for these users." The system also comes with PanaVue network management software, which uses a World Wide Web browser front end and supports the Simple Network Management Protocol.

The Promina 100 comes in two configurations: the Promina 110 integrated access device and the Promina 155 ATM access device, which adds support for ATM. Both products will be available in September and will be added to the General Services Administration schedule.

Cache Server Balancing

With a new focus on the federal government market, Radware/RND Networks Inc. unveiled its Cache Server Director, which is designed to improve the agencies' ability to keep frequently accessed information readily available by distributing it between two cache servers.

The CSD incorporates "smart caching," which intercepts Hypertext Transfer Protocol requests and redirects them to the appropriate cache server. This eliminates the need to configure individual clients to point to a proxy/cache device. The product also provides fault tolerance between cache servers, so if one fails, the CSD will redirect all requests to another.

"You can cache any information. We host a lot of magazines and newspapers, so if there is a late-breaking story it can be cached locally," said Michael Long, vice president of marketing at RND Networks. "You don't have to go to the Internet to get the information."

While the CSD product will ship next month, RND Networks already has several government users of its Web Server Director product, including DOD and the Federal Aviation Administration. WSD is a Web server load balancer that handles incoming requests and distributes traffic load across servers.

The company plans to add all its products to the GSA schedule and recently hired a sales manager to focus on the federal market.

The company is building its distribution channels, targeting partners that have a significant focus on the federal market, said Ed Wimbish, regional sales manager at RND Networks.

"Our sales increased about 150 percent over the past year and a half based primarily on Web Server Director," Wimbish said. "We were able to penetrate accounts we were unable to before. We realized the need in the federal government for Internet Protocol load balancing. [We] think our other products will be as successful."

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