US Army Picks RAID for Future Combat

RAID storage from Dot Hill will play a key role in the Army's Future Combat System

July 18, 2008

3 Min Read
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The U.S. Army is using technology from RAID specialist Dot Hill as part of an ambitious 27-year, $161 billion plan to overhaul the militarys technology infrastructure.

Dot Hill announced this week that it was chosen as a subcontractor by defense contractor General Dynamics C4 Systems to provide technology RAID controller storage modules for the U.S. Army's Future Combat System (FCS) program's Integrated Computer System (ICS).

FCS is the name given to the U.S. Army’s wide-ranging technology modernization effort, which was officially launched in 2003, and is expected to be complete in 2030. ICS aims to provide a common computing platform for the FCS program, providing CPU power, networking, and data storage to Army units.

“If you consider the battlefield, it’s a collection of both manned and unmanned systems collecting data, which is being housed in our RAID storage solutions,” says Garret Wein, Dot Hill’s vice president of OEM Sales. “This is part of a much larger system – the Future Combat Systems – and will be a component in the complete redesign of the US Army’s battlefield systems, which is going into a network system.”

Under the terms of the contract, Dot Hill’s Rapid Evolution RAID-based architecture will be used in conjunction with the Army’s FCS and will collect data such as surveillance and intelligence to provide air- and ground-based forces with real-time information about developments on the battlefield.The RAID specialist doesn’t expect Future Combat Systems or the Integrated Computer Systems to be deployed until 2010 or 2011, but once it does, Wein believes that it could have a major impact on the battlefield and on the lives of every soldier.

“First and foremost, this will have a major impact on the battlefield because for the first time, the US Army will have real-time data on the battlefield instead of receiving it in a command center and doling it back out to the soldiers on the ground,” he said. “It should make for an extremely different situation.”

The broader FCS project, which comprises 14 integrated weapons systems and an advanced information network, nonetheless poses a number of technology and project management challenges, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

“The substantial technical challenges, the Army’s acquisition strategy, and the cost of the program are among the reasons why the program is recognized as needing special oversight and review,” warned auditors, earlier this year. “In the key areas of defining and developing FCS capabilities, requirements definition is still fluid, critical technologies are immature, software development is in its early stages [and] the information network is still years from being demonstrated.”

Despite the daunting scale of the FCS project, the General Dynamics contract represents a major feather in Dot Hill’s cap, even though financial terms have not been disclosed. The vendor, which has been in financial trouble as of late and has tried desperately to strike deals with major vendors, is understandably pleased with the announcement that it will work alongside General Dynamics and the U.S. Army.In recent years, the company has experienced an extreme downturn in profitability, thanks to a rash of management changes and lengthy patent litigation, which has put a damper on its ability to turn things around.

Aside from that, Dot Hill has been at the mercy of Sun for quite some time and with its recent announcement of a partnership with HP along with its alliance with the U.S. Army and General Dynamics, some are wondering if Dot Hill is finally turning things around.

“It should be very good for Dot Hill," says Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group, while discussing other alliances. "They've been totally subservient to Sun, at Sun's mercy. If Sun sneezed, Dot Hill would fall apart."

The U.S. Army and General Dynamics declined to comment on this week’s announcement.

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  • Dot Hill Systems Corp. (Nasdaq: HILL)

  • General Dynamics Corp.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Taneja Group

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