- By Bob Brewin
- Sep 06, 1998
MONTGOMERY, ALA.— SILICON SOUTH? The Standard Systems Group, headquartered here, managed once again to turn this sleepy southern capital into a high-tech Mecca during the annual Air Force Information Technology Conference, luring both Michael Dell of Dell Computer Corp. and Scott McNealy from Sun Microsystems Inc. for a computer confab that definitely wins the high-humidity award. Dell must be wondering what he did wrong. On Monday the stock market cut his net worth by $2 billion, and on Tuesday he had to fly here. At least he did not have to stay at the airport Days Inn— a grim experience, or so I've been told.
STOP WHINING. That's the blunt message Air Force Lt. Gen. William Donahue delivered to vendors during a panel discussion here when asked about the possibility of the service buying enterprisewide licenses for key software products. Large government single-source buys often result in vendor protests, according to Bob Frye, SSG's director, because ''when you have the winner take all, it has a heavy impact on the loser.'' Donahue delivered his blunt viewpoint to the audience: ''You vendors are sore losers,'' Donahue said.
THE HARDWARE MESS. The Air Force needs to standardize its communications and computer hardware, based on the results of a recent servicewide inventory. Col. Gil Hawk, commander of the Air Force Communications Agency, said the survey identified more than a million pieces of comm or computer hardware in the Air Force, spread across 59,000 ''unique pieces of equipment.'' Sounds as though the Air Force has bought at least one of everything ever produced by industry within the past decade. I wonder how many PC Jrs. they found.
FOR THE BIRDS. The Air Force, in many cases, only has itself to blame for its lack of standards, according to Col. William Lord, the communications and computer chief at Air Combat Command. Flocks of migratory birds are hazardous to high-performance aircraft such as F-16 fighters, Lord said, so an Air Force safety organization developed a bird-strike-avoidance software package. The only problem with the software is it runs on ArcView GIS software used primarily by base civil engineers, not flying squadrons. The civil engineers, Lord said, have no interest in the migratory patterns of brown pelicans.
LET'S NOVIATE. I picked up strong signals here that SSG has signed off on a plan for Intergraph to buy the Air Force Workstations contract from Raytheon Data Systems. But it will not be a sale in the true commercial sense. Instead, I'm told, Raytheon will noviate the contract to Intergraph— meaning Intergraph will handle sales— with Raytheon still legally responsible for contract performance, terms and conditions. Consider this an Interceptor word-of-the-week gift.
THE ELVIS PELVIS. On a visit to Honolulu last month, I stopped to see Lee Witt at the International Research Institute, the main GCCS software developer, and to see the latest version of the ELVIS Common Operational Picture software ported to a PalmPilot. I asked if the acronym for the Palm ELVIS was PELVIS. ''You can do that, but I won't,'' Witt said. So, field commanders, get ready for delivery of the ELVIS PELVIS later this year. Long live the King!