By definition 19″ racks integrate a vast assortment of equipment to suit its usage, from air-conditioned server rooms to racks destined to operate within the defence sector.
A key consideration for anyone specifying for such a rack is the grade of equipment that gets selected, from easy to source, cost-effective commercial hardware, to specialist, completely bespoke equipment developed for a challenging application.
Such hardware can often be expensive and increase the length of a project or time to market.
Even in a challenging defence application, it would be ideal to get the best of both worlds, leveraging easy to source cost-effective COTS equipment, whilst ensuring it would be suitable for the intended defence application.
There are also examples of where cutting-edge commercial technology provides a performance level entirely not feasible within a specialist low volume sector. Yet, this performance is an absolute requirement of the application. Such as graphics processing units, which in recent years have gained much utility beyond only rendering immersive graphics, by providing serious processing performance for AI applications starting to be deployed within the defence industry.
So, let’s look at some of the advantages, risks and mitigation using COTS hardware in a defence application
Risk Mitigation unlocks COTS advantages
To successfully use COTS equipment within a 19″ rack integration for defence, through either necessity or to enable rapid deployment, the risks above need to be addressed with additional crucial work.
- Additional Testing and Certification – Ensuring the design is certified and tested to confirm it meets appropriate MIL-STD, DEF-STAN levels for the intended use.
- Adaptation & Protection – Additional ruggedisation can take many forms, from small things such as connector retention to big such as repackaging commercial hardware.
- Obsolescence management – Careful management of supply chain, and component selection to ensure a forwards roadmap is clear.
- Documentation – additional documentation based on the rack as a whole, rather than off the shelf components.
In summary, there are very much significant advantages to considering COTS within a 19″ rack design for defence, but crucially the associated risks that come with it must be addressed; managed risk = reward.
To find out a little more about how Captec works with defence companies to manage these risks, please visit our defence solutions web page.