Special Report: Rugged IT

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In an election year, no one really knows how threatened budget cuts will affect the demand for rugged IT. But government leaders say there’s a new emphasis on special ops forces operating around the world, which bodes nothing but good for the rugged, tactical systems they use.
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The surge of smart phones and tablets into general use is starting to affect planning for rugged IT, and smart phones could find their way to deploying soldiers later in 2012. However, although rugged providers have been building mobile devices for years, it’s not clear just how this commercial form will influence things.
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A push to make the individual warfighter a central force in battlefield decision-making is also pushing essential communications capabilities closer to the front. That, in turn, is creating a new demand for portable and rugged networking systems that will operate in hostile environments.
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Heat has always been the biggest enemy of electronics systems. With the focus on size, weight and power and the general downsizing of rugged IT systems, finding ways to take the heat out of those systems has become a major concern.
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The military is changing the way it buys IT, dropping previous expensive and time-consuming development of proprietary technologies in favor of COTS-based system and fast turnarounds. For rugged vendors who are on the ball, that could be an advantage.
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