Cisco forms defense/space group

In an effort to respond to the unique technological requirements of global defense organizations, Cisco Systems, Inc., last week announced the launch of the Cisco Global Defense and Space Group (GDSG).

The new group is dedicated to providing information and support for integrating the networking technologies of defense C4I organizations worldwide, said Jim Massa, vice president of the GDSG. C4I is command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence.

"Right now, we're responding to requirements which are well-defined," Massa said. "We're sitting at the table with defense end users and partners and bringing commercial off-the-shelf solutions to bear, and [addressing] their other unique requirements to fill those gaps."

The formation of the new group began in 1998 when Cisco created the Strategic Government Alliances Group as part of its Strategic Alliances Organization. That group focused on long-term initiatives and building relationships with other nations' leaders in the areas of defense and space.

With the evolution of new markets and as business models and support requirements have changed, however, the creation of the GDSG became the next logical step, Massa said. "The difference here is that this organization takes standard solutions and best practices from other Cisco organizations and adds the equipment element into the equation as well."

For example, defense and space agencies are interested in adopting wireless technologies as soon as possible, but high-level encryption is needed, which prompted Cisco to partner with Harris Corp. on a solution, Massa said. Harris Corp. announced on Nov. 6 the development of SecNet-11, a secure, wireless, local-area network product for government applications.

Some of the Cisco group's other initiatives include:

* Hosting a defense attache program in which the company will listen to the needs of a nation's senior defense executives and general officers and provide education in targeted areas.

* Conducting nation tours to meet with global defense and industry leaders in their own countries.

* Developing defense- and space-related technologies to enhance Cisco's current offerings.

* Presenting technical papers at symposia and conferences.

* Having dedicated teams focused on the engagement of defense industry partners as well as senior defense and space officers and executives.

Massa said the new team, which is based in Herndon, Va., will have approximately 50 employees and will draw support from the thousands of engineers in Cisco's other divisions.

Partnering with industry and government entities to secure best practices is also part of the mission, and, in addition to Harris, other collaborators include Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing Co., BAE Systems, Raytheon Co., General Dynamics Corp., TRW, Inc., and Northrop/Litton TASC.

"No nation goes into a war effort today by itself," Massa said. "We're a global organization and looking at defense at a global level and defense in coalition. We want to look out three or five years to see what the requirements are at a global level."

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