The History of Partnet

I wanted the first blog post of the year to give a little history of Partnet. We are a small business housed on the campus of the University of Utah, in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. The University of Utah is home to one of the first Computer Science Departments and ranks among the world’s top 20 academic programs.  The University of Utah was also one of the initial five sites for DARPANET—the predecessor of the Internet.

I’m not going to say we “Invented the Internet” or anything, but Partnet was there at the beginning. Before Netscape, Internet Explorer, or even Mosaic were around, Partnet developed its own web client to allow engineers to use the Internet to source parts located in remote databases. Partnet obtained a patent for searching distributed databases over the Internet. Today this patent is widely used by nearly all Internet companies that crawl the Web (this includes Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and many others).

In 1992, Dr. Don Brown was so impressed with the ideas of his students that he made a video of the capabilities and sent it to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military. DARPA has been responsible for funding the development of many technologies that have had a major effect on the world.

Impressed with the idea of a distributed architecture that could search for spare parts from multiple databases, DARPA eagerly funded the project. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) soon joined the project. DLA provides supplies to the military services and supports their acquisition of weapon system repair parts and other materiel. DLA saw […]

DOD Security Needs are both Internal and External

Security has been a top priority for DOD in 2010. On November 3, 2010, the Department of Defense announced that U.S. Cyber Command had achieved Full Operational Capability (FOC).  The mission of Cyber Command is to keep intruders out of government websites. This has been a primary focus of security personnel over the past several years with the alarming increase of attacks on government websites.

In November, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) announced the development of an application that provides smart phone users with a secure way to access DOD networks. Designed by Good Technologies, Go Mobile is intended to allow DOD end-user employees to use their smart phones in a secure way. It uses a plug-in, called a dongle, to connect via Bluetooth to a Common Access Card (CAC). A personal identification number ensures the physical security of the phone. When Go Mobile is active, it disables other features on the phone to secure data storage and provide safe data transfer. The application supports DOD security policy management, enforcement and compliance while providing a secure web browser and a secure apps container. The application is still under testing and evaluation but should be available sometime in 2011.

While these efforts are extremely important and help safeguard external access to government networks and websites, a bigger threat may come from government personnel working within the highly-secure government network. WikiLeaks is a prime example of this internal threat where a single rogue U.S. Army Private was able to download thousands of secret cables and hand them over to Assange’s fledgling organization. No matter how secure a network is, there is always the possibility of a breach from the inside.

Just weeks after the Wikileaks initial release of information, […]

By |December 14th, 2010|General, Security|0 Comments|

DARPA creating enthusiasm for math and science through high-school outreach

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced this week a new initiative to “reignite a passion for exploration among our nation’s youth”. The program is called the Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach (MENTOR) initiative.

As part of MENTOR, DARPA will contract multiple organizations to deploy a variety of programmable manufacturing equipment—such as 3D printers—to high schools throughout the country and orchestrate a series of prize-based challenges.  High schoolers will compete and collaborate as teams to design and build cyber-electro-mechanical systems. “The systems will be of moderate complexity,” said Paul Eremenko, DARPA program manager. “Challenges will involve the design and building of things like go-carts, mobile robots and small unmanned aircraft. And we’ll encourage collaboration during the challenges through the use of social media and social networking applications.”

The program encourages students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Such skills are critical for careers in systems design and manufacturing, and a strong manufacturing base is essential to maintaining a well-built defense. DARPA will expand the program to over 1000 high schools over the next three years.

Partnet is no stranger to DARPA research projects or to students with great ideas. In 1992—at the dawn of the Internet Age and long before anyone had heard the term eCommerce—Dr. Don Brown’s engineering students presented a unique, yet simple question:  Could you connect databases together over the internet to find repair parts?

Don Brown, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Utah, thought that the military might be interested in such a capability. He made a video documenting how it would work and sent it to DARPA.

DARPA was so impressed with the idea of a distributed architecture that could search for spare parts from multiple, remote databases, they decided […]