Edge carves out niche in network management

Edge Technologies Inc., a 6-year-old products and services company, is a niche player that prides itself in its ability to take on "the big guys" in the industry, such as Hewlett-Packard Co.

Based in Fairfax, Va., Edge devotes its time and energy to building tools and applications and providing services that will help organizations take advantage of the Internet and the World Wide Web.

Its 2-year-old flagship product, dubbed N-Vision, is a Web-based network management product that enables network administrators to access network status and configuration data from anywhere in real time, using an Internet connection and a Java-enabled browser.

"It took Hewlett-Packard 20 months to come out with this same capability," said Laurence Chang, Edge's president and chief executive officer. The server portion of N-Vision works with HP's OpenView and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solstice network management platforms. HP released its product in January, Chang said.

Although Edge is a small company with revenues of about $7 million, it has a healthy list of government users, including NASA, the National Institutes of Health, the departments of Justice, Transportation and Treasury, and the Army, the Air Force and the Navy. About 65 percent of the company's business comes from its government work, Chang said, and that is expected to increase. Over the past two months alone, the company has won - either as a prime vendor or a subcontractor - five government contracts, he said.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been using N-Vision since August 1998. The bureau uses N-Vision to access HP's OpenView, which monitors the health of the ATF network infrastructure. "The N-Vision product helps us launch maps and events without" using processing overhead on the main server, said James Araghi, principal engineer at ATF's network management and control center. "It really helps a lot."

Edge also offers a set of services based on tools it develops and reuses across different applications. These services are primarily electronic data interchange- and electronic commerce-based and use Web and database technology.

Most notable is an Internet-based service to help dairy farmers find the best mate for their cows based on genetic information. Edge collects data from the Agriculture Department and other organ-izations to populate the database and then sells the service to farmers who want to breed a cow that produces better milk. The service is based on Edge's Web-

Mating for Genetic Improvement suite of services. The tools that made Internet cow-matching a reality also are in use in government agencies. For example, Edge helped the National Security Agency create a database that resolves Internet Protocol addresses by translating an IP number into a name.

Meanwhile, under a contract held by Lockheed Martin Corp., Edge helped build a Web-centric database that the Defense Logistics Agency uses to procure parts for aircraft. Under the Virtual Prime Vendor contract, DLA can electronically connect vendors that make airplane parts with Air Force users that want to buy them.

"If we see good technology in government, we can bring it to the commercial side and vice versa," Chang said. "We see the value of retaining technology components."

Edge is structured to move quickly and take advantage of new technology, Chang said, which includes training all staff on new technologies and methods that can then be brought to a specific agency project.

"We have a terrifically talented technical staff. We're able to anticipate how to apply emerging technology into working products," he said. "That's what we can do as a small company is respond quickly."

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