All commercial contracts achieve the best results when both the buyer and the supplier achieve their objectives. For the buyer, the main objective is to introduce an improved capability into his organisation at a cost he can afford. For the supplier, the main objective is to deliver the required solution successfully and profitably. When a system solution is purchased for any type of maritime surveillance role, it is expected to provide a good quality capability for many years. Therefore, an ongoing good quality relationship between both the buyer and the supplier is in everyone’s interests.
Modern systems are based upon commercial off the shelf IT technology. This has the advantage of being lower cost but also means that hardware life cycles are generally shorter. IT equipment is typically designed for an operational life of 3-4 years and therefore the task of hardware replacement may occur more frequently with an IT based system. In addition, when an item of hardware is replaced, it is highly probable that the new hardware will have a different device driver or different Operating System software. If a 3 year old PC fails, acquiring a new device to exactly the same specification is nearly impossible and also undesirable as newer technology will probably have faster processing, more memory etc.. So how should systems that have an operational life of 10 years or more be supported over that life cycle when hardware may need to be changed every 3 or 4 years and will then introduce new software and drivers?
Today, we regularly download software applications for phones, tablets and desktop PCs. Applications are then automatically updated whenever an Operating System changes or when new functionality is introduced. It is therefore clear that with modern software based systems, there will be a need for regular software updates to ensure that the system is able to continue to operate effectively. Updates may involve the Operating System as well as the VTS Application software so it is vital that the Supplier has the capability to ensure that new software updates from Operating System suppliers (such as Windows, OSX, Unix / Linux etc..) is tested immediately upon release and that any impact on the VTS Application software is quickly mitigated. This will also need a continuing and effective relationship between Buyer and Supplier throughout the system lifecycle.