With last week's announcement that we’re planning to acquire Virtek comes the question: why is the “middleware” technology that Virtek creates so important?
As Martin said when speaking about the acquisition: “The integration of this powerful middleware technology will strengthen our competitive position in the maritime broadband marketplace, enable us to offer a wide range of value-added functionality to customers, and provide a path to enhance the efficiency and versatility of our mini-VSAT Broadband data communications network.”
OK, but what does that really mean?
Maritime satcom users, especially commercial ones, require powerful integration capabilities for their satcom service to support operational requirements like:
- reducing their total communication costs while maintaining a high degree of flexibility in how they use the system.
- providing easy control of least-cost routing for their communications, allowing our customers to rely on mini-VSAT Broadband for everyday use and then easily switch to a complementary service like Inmarsat FleetBroadband, shore-based WiFi, etc., when necessary.
- improving crew welfare and morale by offering private voice, e-mail and web browsing.
- allowing their IT departments to have comprehensive remote access to their shipboard networks, minimizing their own costs while improving their efficiency.
Basically, they need something that does this:
That’s where the technology developed by Virtek comes in. Virtek’s CommBox will become an integral part of the mini-VSAT Broadband solution, equipping customers with an array of capabilities that provide that level of integration and control, including features like:
- crew e-mail capabilities that enable crew members to keep one personal e-mail account for usage on any vessel in the fleet, as well as on shore
- data compression for web browsing to get the most out of the company’s data use while allowing the company to manage or prevent access to applications that might use more bandwidth than they find acceptable
- easy file transfers from ship to shore and shore to ship, including file compression and synchronization among files and folders so only the items that were changed get transferred
- management software that provides complete jremote access to see what is happening with the communication on the fleet’s vessels at all times along with IP routing that supports remote operations and diagnostics of the vessel network right from the company headquarters
- configurable firewalls and encryption for data and network security
- automatic switching between mini-VSAT Broadband and other services, with configurable rules that determine when to switch as well as the functions that are available with each service (for example, allowing crew calling and web browsing when using mini-VSAT Broadband but turning those functions off when the ship is connected to the more expensive Inmarsat FleetBroadband)
When we created the TracPhone V7 and mini-VSAT Broadband network, our goal was to offer an end-to-end solution that covered not only basic voice and broadband communications but also value-added capabilities that would make our global satcom service even more appealing, more useful, and more competitive. Adding Virtek, its talented team, and the CommBox technology to our satcom solution is a big step in that direction.