Tech Success: Cyber- and physical security meet

IT solutions in action

Project: Converged enterprise IT security

Agency: Army Surface Deployment and Distribution Command

Partners: Paragon Systems LLC, Herndon, Va.; and NetBotz Corp., Austin, Texas

Goal: Army Surface Deployment and Distribution Command at Fort Eustis, Va., needed a way of monitoring environmental conditions, such as excessive heat and humidity, in its operations center computer rooms.

Obstacle: The solution had to be quick and easy to deploy, without introducing an entirely separate system that runs parallel to the command's other IT management systems. It also had to be flexible enough to handle additional monitoring tasks.

Solution: Paragon Systems proposed IP-based monitoring from NetBotz Corp. The NetBotz solutions take surveillance camera and environmental sensor data and send it over an IP network. The system can send alerts automatically via e-mail, text message, cell phone or other method.

Payoff: For Paragon, the NetBotz solution adds value to IT infrastructure projects. Staff at Fort Eustis can now react quickly to environment threats to its IT assets. The command will now deploy wireless monitoring devices at ports to key an eye on shipbound materiel.

NetBotz CEO Tom Goldman said about 80 percent of the company's systems are used for monitoring IT infrastructures.

Photo:Rick Steele

Army command uses IP networks to monitor environmental threats to IT infrastructure

When chasing IT contracts, it can be hard to make one proposal stand out from the rest. Server consolidation, disaster recovery and similar technology initiatives are fairly well understood and not very glamorous.

But Gary Newgaard, president of Paragon Systems LLC of Herndon, Va., said his company has found an emerging technology that adds considerable value to the IT work it does for government customers.

Under a Defense Department task order, Paragon is installing Internet protocol-based physical security solutions for the Army Surface Deployment and Distribution Command at Fort Eustis, Va.

The systems, developed by NetBotz Corp. of Austin, Texas, let government agencies monitor the physical conditions around their critical infrastructure while they protect the data that travels across it.

"This kind of technology should be a key component of any agency's disaster recovery planning," Newgaard said.

The Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, a component of the U.S. Transportation Command, moves everything from troops' families to military materiel around the world.

Its Fort Eustis operations center has six server closets and one large computer room for running the command's IT infrastructure. Last year, the operations center had an unforeseen IT problem.

"We had some freak flooding in one of our computer rooms and didn't notice it until the next day," said Rose DuBose, senior technical adviser at Fort Eustis.

Although the damage wasn't catastrophic, DuBose and her staff needed an easy way to monitor the physical conditions in and around the computers. At the time, Paragon Systems was at Fort Eustis installing network equipment, and it pitched the NetBotz solution.

"Continuity of operations initiatives is driving agencies toward this solution," said Tom Goldman, NetBotz's chief executive officer. "Few agencies view their infrastructures as anything other than critical."

The main component of a NetBotz deployment is the NetBotz 500 monitoring appliance. It's about the size of a laptop computer, and has a central processor, digital motion camera and sensor module.

The built-in module detects humidity, temperature, airflow and noise, but it can accept virtually any third-party sensor through one of its USB ports, Goldman said.

NetBotz recently contracted with RAE Systems Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., to support RAE's sensors, which include biological and chemical agent detectors, among others.

The NetBotz 500 can be attached to a wall or slipped into a server rack. It communicates with a rack-mounted NetBotz Central command server via Ethernet or wireless connection (802.11 or GSM/GPRS).

The more devices deployed, the more it makes sense to consolidate data on the NetBotz Central server running the company's management software, Goldman said. But each monitoring appliance has a built-in, IP-addressable Web server, so IT staff can use any Web browser to check on it without needing that additional server.

When the NetBotz 500 detects a threat, it sends alerts through user-defined channels, including e-mail, text messages or cell phones. In addition, the unit's camera captures video only when it senses a problem. This helps minimize bandwidth usage and data storage needs, DuBose said.

Because the NetBotz solution uses IP, Fort Eustis staff can monitor the conditions in its computer rooms over the same network it uses to monitor the health of its data.

All network traffic and alerts use Secure Socket Layer encryption to protect information.

The command piloted a pair of NetBotz 500 appliances for 90 days, DuBose said. Now, Paragon is installing four permanent monitoring units and the NetBotz Central server in the operations center.

The command also decided to expand its use of NetBotz beyond the computer room. When the Defense Department has to move people or materiel overseas, the command often collects cargo at commercial ports for loading onto ships.

That cargo can sit on a dock for several days, largely unmonitored. DuBose said the command has bought three additional NetBotz units for keeping an eye on soldiers' equipment, which can include food, clothes and weapons.

Paragon's Newgaard said the NetBotz solution is a minor, incremental cost to IT contracts. For example, the NetBotz solution for the Army Surface Command cost only $150,000, including integration services.

NetBotz has sold thousands of monitoring appliances to the Transportation Security Administration, Goldman said. Other customers include the Treasury and Transportation departments, National Institutes of Health, NASA and Federal Aviation Administration.

Goldman said about 80 percent of the NetBotz deployments are for monitoring IT infrastructures, but more agencies are using the products for other purposes, such as detecting threats other facilities.

"In labs, like at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this kind of monitoring is critical," he said. "That's a scientist's life work in there."

If you have an innovative solution that you recently installed in a government agency, contact Staff Writer Brad Grimes at bgrimes@postnewsweektech.com.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close
SEARCH
contracts DB

Trending

  • Dive into our Contract Award database

    In an exclusive for WT Insider members, we are collecting all of the contract awards we cover into a database that you can sort by contractor, agency, value and other parameters. You can also download it into a spreadsheet. Read More

  • Is SBA MIA on contractor fraud? Nick Wakeman

    Editor Nick Wakeman explores the puzzle of why SBA has been so silent on the latest contractor fraud scandal when it has been so quick to act in other cases. Read More

Webcasts

  • How Do You Support the Project Lifecycle?

    How do best-in-class project-based companies create and actively mature successful organizations? They find the right mix of people, processes and tools that enable them to effectively manage the project lifecycle. REGISTER for this webinar to hear how properly managing the cycle of capture, bid, accounting, execution, IPM and analysis will allow you to better manage your programs to stay on scope, schedule and budget. Learn More!

  • Sequestration, LPTA and the Top 100

    Join Washington Technology’s Editor-in-Chief Nick Wakeman as he analyzes the annual Top 100 list and reveals critical insights into how market trends have impacted its composition. You'll learn what movements of individual companies means and how the market overall is being impacted by the current budget environment, how the Top 100 rankings reflect the major trends in the market today and how the biggest companies in the market are adapting to today’s competitive environment. Learn More!