Networking, security take center stage at GovTechNet

Network technology took center stage at the GovTechNet International Conference and Exposition last week, as industry vendors introduced or previewed a slew of products designed to ease data communications in the office and in the field.

Other announcements include encryption technology for recordable CDs and commercial off-the-shelf technology for building command and control displays.

Deployable Telecom

SRA International Inc. debuted its Deployable Telecommunications Contingency Package (DTCPack), targeting mobile military as well as state and local emergency officials who need a light and robust communications suite to use during times of crisis.

Replacing the company's original tactical local-area network/wide-area network product, DTCPack provides voice, data and secure telephone services, two wireless laptops pre-loaded with office suite applications, videoconferencing capability, Asynchronous Transfer Mode switching and compatibility with the upcoming Defense Message System.

Anthony Valletta, vice president of SRA Federal Systems and the former acting deputy assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence, said he purposely removed the word "tactical" from the name of the new system because it also is suited to civilian agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

DTCPack is designed to support military and emergency personnel "in places where there is no infrastructure - something that military professionals have told me that commercial off-the-shelf equipment has not been able to do," Valletta said.

In a similar vein, Comsat Corp. previewed a 9-pound terminal capable of providing 64 kilobits/sec service from anywhere in the world, which the company believes will be well-suited to deployed DOD users.

Tom Collins, vice president of Comsat Mobile Communications, said the new service, expected to be available next year, will provide "the highest data rate available from a mobile satellite communications system." The new terminals are one-third the size of earlier terminals, Collins said, and also will provide users with Integrated Services Digital Network capability, which was not easily available on earlier systems.

Comsat expects to start offering the terminals next year, with service provided worldwide over satellites operated by the International Maritime Satellite Communications Organization.

Secure Data Compression

Network Equipment Technologies Inc. (NET) unveiled its PrimeVoice Secure compression module, which company officials said is the first compression product to meet STU-III and STU-IIb federal standards for secure voice and data communications over public telephone networks.

"I really don't think anybody else can put these secure phones over a compressed signal," said Jim Kelly, systems engineering manager at NET Federal. "This greatly increases the amount of traffic [users] can carry without increasing bandwidth."

Kelly said an executive branch organization, which requested that it not be named, was testing the module last week. NET will begin shipping the product in August and will make it available on its General Services Administration schedule.

Kelly said the unique aspect of the new module is its ability to know the difference between voice and data transmissions, decide whether transmissions are encrypted and apply appropriate compression algorithms based on those determinations.

The module fits into the chassis of any NET Promina series switches and can provide secure compression rates of 4.8 kilobits/sec, 8 kilobits/sec and 9.6 kilobits/sec, an NET spokesman said.

Diverse Network Chassis

Canoga Perkins Corp., maker of fiber-optic data communications equipment used by DOD, the National Security Agency and other security-sensitive agencies, announced at GovTechNet the availability of a universal chassis that can hold a mixture of modems, multiplexers and other network devices.

The EdgeAccess Universal Chassis System can hold up to 15 modules supporting a range of fiber-optic-based services from 56 kilobits/sec to gigabit speeds. The chassis also holds Canoga Perkins' new Domain Management Module, which the company created in response to requests from government customers seeking better management capability, said Paul Stennes, executive vice president of Canoga Perkins.

Canoga Perkins, which has been in the fiber-optic modem market since 1978, designed the chassis "combining all different protocols and media conversions into a [single] management chassis," Stennes said. The network modules slide into the chassis vertically, giving network managers a platform that stores all the devices in one place.

The management module slides into the chassis vertically as well, providing managers with the ability to communicate and manipulate modems and other devices on the other end of the link, Stennes said. It uses a separate circuit so that it does not take away bandwidth from data communications, he added.

The government's demand for bandwidth to conduct videoconferencing and transmit large data files, including graphics, 3-D applications and other images, is driving the need for the higher data transfer speeds supported by fiber, Stennes said.

Aside from DOD and NSA, Canoga Perkins' equipment is used by NASA to reproduce images sent from space on Earth-based workstations and by the Department of Veterans Affairs to connect doctors located at hospitals across the country.

Secure Recordable CDs

Global Technologies Group Inc. said it plans to ship by the end of this month software for encrypting data stored on CD-Recordable discs.

George Allen, president and chief executive officer of the company, said PrivaCD addresses "the downside" of using CDs to store and transport information. "You potentially aggregate confidential, sensitive or private information" on media that is easy to carry away, he said.

PrivaCD enables CD-R makers to encrypt their data using the Data Encryption Standard before they cut a disc. People who use the discs are provided with a special driver that allows their computers to recognize the encrypted disc and prompts them for a key or password.

The software comes bundled with CD-R production software from Rimage Corp., as well as in a "low-production" turnkey system that includes hardware and disc production software from Adaptec Inc.

In Other News...

Gallium Software Inc. officially released at a product called Airdef1, a commercial off-the-shelf product for building command and control displays for air defense systems.

Usually, mission-critical display systems take a long time to develop, run over budget, are difficult to change and take a long time to test and certify, said Scott Wardle, Airdef1 product manager at Gallium. However, with Airdef1, "users start with an application; they don't need to build the [display software] from scratch," Wardle said.

The product is configurable so a user can change how objects, such as navigation aids, look on the display. In addition, Airdef1 makes it easy to quickly build a display prototype and simulate the product changes before rolling it out. Any software changes made to the prototype system are saved and incorporated into the final version, Wardle said.

Airdef1 is based on Gallium's Configurable Application Product architecture and the company's flagship InterMAPhics technology. This software development environment also is the basis for the company's other vertical applications, including those for air traffic control displays.

The company counts among its users the Federal Aviation Administration's Hughes Technical Center and traditionally sells through integrators such as Raytheon Co.

-- Brad Bass, Bob Brewin, Margret Johnston, Colleen O'Hara, Elana Varon and Daniel Verton contributed to this article.

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