Grid vendor opens fed unit

Platform Computing Inc., a grid computing specialist, has launched a federal subsidiary to help the Toronto-based company delve deeper into U.S. government accounts.

The company already counts NASA and the Defense and Energy departments among its customers. But the creation of Platform Computing Federal Inc. is intended to make it easier for the company to do business with government agencies that are concerned about security.

"After [Sept. 11, 2001], it became harder to go deeper into programs" as a company owned by foreign nationals, said Rene Copeland, president of Platform's federal unit and the parent company's vice president of government, life sciences and industrial manufacturing. Company officials announced the federal subsidiary at the Supercomputing 2002 conference in Baltimore this month.

Platform Computing Federal will be based in Columbia, Md., and will have its own board of directors, consisting of U.S. citizens.

Once the subsidiary and its board are in place, Platform Computing Federal will pursue a facility security clearance. The clearance allows contractors to receive classified information so they can bid and perform sensitive government work. Contractors must have a sponsor to apply for a facility security clearance. The Defense Department is likely to be Platform's sponsor, Copeland said.

The clearance also will pave the way for Platform to pursue homeland security-related projects. Copeland said grid computing can address such homeland security challenges as database sharing and improved communications.

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