Van Dyke, Wang finding common bonds

Although it would have been easy to get lost in the vast enterprise that is Wang Global, the merger of security firm J.G. Van Dyke & Associates Inc. and Wang Government Services so far has been a case of a complementary meeting of minds.

While Wang mainly has been focused on delivering high-assurance security products and solutions to agencies, Van Dyke has made its name through its services and research. Bringing the two together will strengthen both offerings in the growing federal security market, said Mary Stassie, vice president of the network technology group at Van Dyke/Wang Government Services.

"The acquisition presented very complementary services with very little overlap," Stassie said. "There was a lot of concern at Van Dyke that Wang wouldn't commit to what we do...but it has only made us stronger."

The two companies are still operating with the same structures and personnel as before the acquisition, with Van Dyke maintaining its offices in Annapolis Junction, Md. The most obvious changes are in the combined companies' expertise and the difference this will make in future offerings for federal customers, Stassie said.

Perhaps the most important of these will be the combined experience in network and security management. This is a hot spot in the security market right now and not just in the federal arena. Organizations have been putting in security products for many types of situations, from firewalls to intrusion-detection systems, but only recently are vendors beginning to offer the solutions that will enable users to tie all the products together for some kind of central security management.

Many of the answers are coming from the network management market. Wang has a strong background in that area and is offering integration of agencies' security and network management. Van Dyke's singular focus on the security market can strengthen that offering, Stassie said.

The immediate benefits for Van Dyke's federal customers are clear. In the past, the company often had been turned down as a prime on security contracts because of its size, even though the company offered all required services and products.

The General Services Administration's Program Safeguard is a type of opportunity the companies could take advantage of in the future. Safeguard provides products and services tailored to help agencies comply with Presidential Decision Directive 63, which requires agencies to protect their critical systems and infrastructure.

Van Dyke is now a partner with SRA International Inc. on Safeguard, but with Wang's expertise and resources to back their offerings, they could stand as a prime on such contracts in the future.

For Wang there are some immediate payoffs in its ability to use Van Dyke's experience in independent product assessment and testing for a broader range of security products than Wang has traditionally focused on. Wang is well-known for its experience developing products for the Defense Department's Tempest program. Tempest products are designed to prevent data from being radiated electronically and intercepted by unauthorized users.

Van Dyke's more general testing experience could be especially important now that the National Information Assurance Partnership, a program created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Security Agency, has approved an accreditation program for labs testing information security products under the international Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation Scheme, an increasingly popular security initiative. Agencies are being encouraged by NIST, NSA and the General Accounting Office to use products that have been certified by NIAP-approved laboratories.

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