By Chip Downing
MILCOM 2011 last week in Baltimore, MD was not only educational, but it was a watershed event. Last year, it was a “coming out” party for custom Android devices; this year however, was the year where many companies are now using COTS hardware and software to their fullest extent, along the entire supply chain, from core to edge and user devices. I believe this COTS adoption is driven by two powerful forces – the exploding capabilities of commercial tablet devices, and global military budget pressures.
The vastly increasing power and capability of commercially available mobile communications devices is simply amazing. Just a few years ago, almost everything in this military communications space was purpose built, and most commercial products were simply inadequate to address the rugged and complex system demands of military communications systems. As seen at MILCOM 2011, this has officially changed — COTS end-to-end communications domains rule.
So if all of these MILCOM vendors are not making customized hardware and software, what are they doing? Wind River had over 500 people visit its booth at MILCOM this year, and most of the discussions I had with both suppliers and end users at the show were about increasing device security and leveraging high volume COTS components in demanding deployment scenarios.