Channel Innovator: Networking/Convergence Winner
TA VAR’s rugged mobile
server solution paves the way for $100 million in new business in the
next 18 months.
Just prior to retiring from the military, Harless, then a division operation manager, was charged with designing, building, and supporting a tactical solution that could support a variety of military communications including voice, data, and video. Harless experimented with different server and power configurations and was able to improve upon the available COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) products, adding multiple power options and reducing the servers’ failure rate slightly, but he felt the solution had a long way to go before it was ready for military use.
Fast-forward two years. After retiring from the military, Harless accepted a position as VP of government solutions for NDS. One of his first tasks was to improve upon the design of the server solution he started while in the military, which he and NDS did achieve. In fact, the company has sold several TCSs (tactical communications systems) to the military, and the product has less than a 2% failure rate in the field, which is 76% better than Harless’ original design. “There are several factors that play into the success of our TCS,” he says. “First, we built our appliance with eight fans per server using HP’s blade server technology, and we separate the power supply from the server, which enables the appliance to operate 30 degrees lower. The next improvement we made was to change the size of the box from the typical pizza box format to an appliance that is 40% smaller. This enables the appliance to fit into a variety of military vehicles ranging in size from Humvees to armored personnel carriers.” The TCS also operates on DC power rather than AC; it includes eight servers, 9 TB of storage, and Cisco switches (to accommodate VoIP [voice over Internet Protocol] services). Additionally, it includes multiple wireless connectivity options, such as 802.11 a/b/g, CDMA (code division multiple access), and GSM (global system for mobile communication).
Tweak Your Convergence Solution
To Fit Multiple Customers’ Needs
Following the success of its TCS, NDS is preparing its solution to meet additional government needs. For example, the VAR developed a version of the TCS to satisfy the Air Force’s requirements, which includes running Solaris and Windows in the same box and a backup power supply that fits into one of the blade slots. “Our product was designed to be highly customizable and configurable,” says Doug Helmink, president and COO at NDS. “We were able to save the Air Force about $20,000 by meeting all their communications requirements in a single appliance.” The cost of a TCS appliance and software is approximately $180,000 to $200,000. One Army brigade purchased multiple TCS products and software licenses totaling $5 million.
NDS currently is engaging decision makers in additional government and military branches such as the Marines, Navy, and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). The VAR also has plans to market its solution to large cities and large enterprise customers with mission-critical applications needs. Based on current prospects, NDS conservatively projects its TCS sales and implementation services will yield $100 million in new business within the next 18 months. l