Raytheon moves to pursue thin-client demands
Company's purchase of TCS highlights value of desktop virtualization
- By David Hubler
- Apr 27, 2011
Officials at Raytheon Co. must have known in November 2010 that thin was in when they purchased Trusted Computer Solutions Inc., a provider of thin-client cross-domain security solutions.
Perhaps they were reacting to moves by others in 2009, when desktop virtualization soared in popularity and companies such as VMware, Hewlett-Packard Co., Microsoft Corp. and Citrix Systems Inc. released new thin-client offerings.
Or maybe they saw that TCS had been profitable every year since the private company was founded in 1994 and had grown from its initial two employees to more than 130 at the time of the acquisition.
In fact, for TCS' fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31, 2010, the company, based in Herndon, Va., recorded its largest revenue-generating quarter in its history, with a 92 percent increase in quarterly revenues over the same period the year before, and had year-end revenues exceeding those of 2009 by 32 percent.
TCS’s fourth-quarter results were the product of several successes, including significant government contract wins from the Defense Intelligence Agency, Missile Defense Agency and Canadian navy, Chief Operating Officer Ed Hammersla said in a news release at the time.
The wholly owned subsidiary, now known as Raytheon TCS, is part of Raytheon’s Intelligence and Information Systems division and does not release precise revenue numbers. But Hammersla told Washington Technology that he plans to add another 200 employees to the roster during the next several years.
Hammersla said he is especially bullish on the company’s continued growth because he believes the future belongs to cross-domain solutions, specifically the company’s SecureOffice Trusted Thin Client, which provides access to and transfer of classified information between two or more secure domains on one desktop device.
That means there would be no need for two or three separate monitors on an intelligence analyst’s desk.
In addition to maintaining secure data separation, the SecureOffice system allows users to access networks with different classification levels — including top secret, secret and sensitive but unclassified — based on their clearances.
“The technology, of course, doesn’t really know that these are classified networks. It just knows that we’ve got to keep them separate,” Hammersla said, adding that the technology is also suitable for civilian government agencies that handle personal data, which must be maintained securely.
And because SecureOffice runs on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system, it is an accredited commercial system.
To keep up with government agencies' growing acceptance of telework, TCS has just released a version of its SecureOffice Trusted Thin Client that will permit government workers to securely access multiple sensitive networks while working outside the traditional office environment.
The remote access implementation provides a means of securely connecting to back-end networks with no risk of data loss or compromise.
Hammersla said anyone who needs information from more than one network simultaneously is a good candidate for TCS’ thin-client system.
“This technology gives them a cost effective and secure way to do that," he said. "And that includes a whole bunch of people outside of just the [Defense Department] and the intelligence community markets."
DOD customers include the Air Force Central Command, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and Missile Defense Agency.
The new Defense Information Systems Agency headquarters in Anne Arundel County, Md., will rely primarily on secure thin clients rather than desktop computers, a move that is expected to save millions of dollars in desktop support and hardware upgrades, according to a recent online report.
Other federal agencies that often need to segregate data include the Veterans Affairs and Education departments, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Another TCS client, the Center for Army Analysis, has been testing the TCS technology for about 18 months using two internal unclassified networks, which have exchanged data seamlessly, said Hamid Ford, the center’s CIO.
In fact, Ford and his supervisor have not had any problems transferring unclassified data. “We had some challenges, but they were not related to the thin client or TCS,” he said.
The facility, based at Fort Belvoir, Va., is expected to begin testing classified networks in early May.
“If it proves to be an 85 percent [successful] solution, I’d like to have it because that’s going to be a life saver," Ford said. "Currently we have four computers; soon we’re going to have six computers per person.”
Among civilian agencies, there is interest from several Energy Department laboratories that must prevent proprietary information from spilling onto other networks, said Sherryl Dorch, Raytheon TCS’ vice president of marketing.
Although the applicability of the thin-client system at civilian agencies might seem obvious, the language needed to make the sale is different, she said. So those sales presentations often include explanations of the inherent security that exists with network separation.
“For example, where we would talk about cross-domain technology or cross-domain solutions in the DOD and intelligence communities, we’re talking very differently to civilian [agencies], talking about ‘secure information sharing,’ ” Dorch said.
Technology that allows users to view multiple networks on the same monitor securely without leaking data is not the same as opening the New York Times and Washington Post websites simultaneously on a split screen, she said.
“You’re not accessing those organizations’ internal networks," she said. "You’re just on their external public website. We’re talking about going into an organization’s internal network, where there is a much higher risk of data" spill.
David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.