CDS supports Federal Aviation Authority's IBM Proventia Software

When Proventia (now owned by IBM), the supplier of a key Intrusion Detection System (IDS) ended their support program, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was left with a system that would no longer be supported by the manufacturer. US government rules stipulate that any owned system must be covered by a full maintenance contract, or be replaced with a system that does have the requisite protection.

Having used Computer Data Services (CDS) to support several other systems, the FAA technical team included them in the shortlist for a new maintenance contract tender.

A costly choice and a cost-effective solution

The FAA team were approached by a former Proventia employee who offered to assume maintenance and support services – for approximately 30% more than the original contract. Charlie Tang, Contracting Officer Representative for the FAA’s Remote Maintenance and Logging System (RMLS) takes up the story;

A former employee contacted all of Proventia’s clients, including the FAA, offering to take over the maintenance services. Although perfectly capable, this enterprising individual wanted to increase the contract price by about 30% at the time of the next renewal.

Quickly ruling out this option, the FAA approached three companies, asking them to bid to provide maintenance services on the 7 Proventia IDS systems. But only one of these businesses supplied a quote – CDS.

We realized that Proventia hardware was a niche specialism, but we had hoped for a range of quotes to consider,” explains Charlie, “Fortunately the one we did get was a very pleasant surprise. CDS quoted just 50% of the original maintenance fee to support all 7 IDS units per year.

Too good to be true?

With a such a low bid price, the FAA would normally have some reservations about the quality of the service they could expect to receive. But in the case of CDS there were no such concerns.

Having worked with CDS many times in the past we were confident that the service would be excellent, often exceeding our expectations. CDS has also gone above and beyond the limits of their contractual obligations. It’s a stone cold cliché, but for CDS it’s completely true – they always go the extra mile.

We really didn’t have any concerns at all. CDS have always openly turned down jobs they are not confident about being able to complete to their usual high standards. The fact they were confident was enough for us to be sure they could do the job, and do it well.

With a competitive price and a track record of excellence, the FAA was able to get the maintenance and support they needed to keep the Proventia IDS units in place, reducing the total cost of ownership below original expectations.

How did CDS assist?

As part of their standard maintenance agreements, CDS offer a complete spare parts service, replacing faulty components and hardware in as little as four hours. With Proventia out of business, the potential pool of spare parts could only get smaller, meaning that any outage could be permanent.

To avoid this possibility, CDS bought up all remaining parts and units for the relevant devices, ensuring that no matter how small the spare part market got, the FAA would always have the components they needed. CDS even arranged for the spare part inventory to be stored at a nearby distribution site, reducing the time required to have spares delivered and installed at the FAA datacenter.

CDS has now been supporting the Proventia IDS devices since 2012, during which period there has been just one failure, something Tang attributes to the stringent proactive maintenance routines employed by CDS.

CDS engineers don’t just drop in to replace parts when a unit fails. Our Proventia units are covered by a 7x24 monitoring regime that looks for potential problems before they occur.

An outstanding track record

Charlie and his team are unequivocal in their praise for the service they have received;

“Since CDS took over maintenance we have not experienced any outages or intrusions – they have kept everything running in perfect order. This level of service coupled with a more than agreeable price has saved the US taxpayer a small fortune by keeping our legacy Proventia devices in service, in a situation where we would normally have had to replace them to remain compliant with government guidelines.”

IBM takeover

Since CDS’s involvement, the future of the FAA IDS systems has been further improved; IBM has now acquired Proventia’s remaining assets and continue to produce IDS solutions under the IBM Proventia brand name.

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