TimePlex acquisition fills product line gapFCW-MKTT

TimePlex Federal Systems plans to begin offering to federal agencies an Asynchronous Transfer Mode concentrator that the company will sell as a result of its parent company's purchase of Simulation Laboratories Inc., a Defense Department contractor based in Ijamsville, Md.

Leaders of TimePlex Inc. and SLI agreed to a stock-purchase agreement earlier this month. Officials at TimePlex Federal said they believe the concentrator— which the company will begin selling late next month— will fill a gap in the company's existing ATM product line, which includes its Synchrony bandwidth management, switching and ATM access products.

SLI officials, meanwhile, said they will benefit from the deal by taking advantage of TimePlex's federal marketing operations and its foothold in the civilian agency arena.

Warren Grasty, president of TimePlex Federal, said he first heard about SLI late last year. The company had sold about $2 million worth of its ATM concentrator product, the SLI Model 1500 Cell Mux Concentrator, to DOD.

He said the concentrator had been tested by the Defense Information Systems Agency and was "favorably received" within the department.

Grasty said he realized quickly that the two companies could help each other. "TimePlex had a hole in its product line where an ATM concentrator would fit very effectively," he said.

SLI president Tad Shields said he saw an opportunity to increase his customer base. "What we were looking for was an opportunity to push the product out to the commercial and government marketplace," he said. "Even though we had a reputation in [DOD], we didn't have much visibility in non-DOD agencies."

Grasty said he plans to market the concentrator to his customers as a tool for integrating legacy traffic onto the ATM backbone.

"There's a general consensus that ATM to the desktop won't happen," he said. "The question is: How do you bring those legacy systems to the ATM backbone? That's what this system does."

Grasty said he expects TimePlex's pricing— about $20,000 for a minimum configuration—to undercut those prices offered by other manufacturers of ATM concentrators. Shields said the product will have a leg up on the competition in the federal market because of his company's traditional orientation to the needs of the federal market.

"A number of our interfaces have been geared to use in government networks, especially in regard to satellite interfaces and encryption equipment," Shields said. "So that's a big differentiation within the government."

Shields said his company will continue to develop its product line in Ijamsville and will exist as a separate, wholly owned subsidiary of TimePlex.

John Okay, senior vice president for telecommunications and special studies at Federal Sources Inc., said the new product will move TimePlex further from its old proprietary product line and more into a standards-based approach to ATM.

"It should help TimePlex to get business within agencies where there is an embedded ATM base and [should] allow customers to keep their existing TimePlex base," Okay said. "It extends the life of the embedded base for both the customer and for TimePlex Federal."

Grasty said he hopes to offer the concentrator on his company's General Services Administration schedule contract by August. He said it also will be available through the NASA Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement II contract.

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