FAIRMONT, W. Va. — Dagostino Electronic Services’ relationship with NASA’s Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) program dates back nearly 20 years.
From network infrastructure and upgrades to a new phone system and campus-wide wireless internet, DES has been a trusted partner for the program since 1998.
“All of our relationships are built on trust,” said Rick Cavanaugh, IT Program Manager and Enterprise Architect for ADNET Systems, a subcontractor for West Virginia University in support of NASA IV&V. “They have great people, good infrastructure subject matter experts, and we’ve trusted their expertise over the years and really valued what they’ve done for us.”
The NASA IV&V facility opened in Fairmont, West Virginia, in 1994. Employees test software to ensure all NASA missions are safe and secure.
“Are you building the right product, are you building the product right and how does it work under adverse conditions? That’s what [they] do as a program here,” Cavanaugh explained.
DES completed the first network infrastructure upgrade at the facility in the late 90s and the projects have continued from there.
In 2003, a new Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise voice over IP phone system was installed. Upgrades to the network and audio video solutions were completed in 2005, 2011 and 2016.
In 2009, NASA IV&V expanded to a second building and DES was contracted to run all the building’s cable.
Both buildings are equipped with 5G wireless internet to support the 250 onsite employees.
“We’ve had several wireless solutions over the years and DES has been involved in pretty much all of them,” Cavanaugh explained. “This latest upgrade has been most beneficial to us because we upgraded to 5G speeds for the entire project and with that we’ve incorporated some external access points.”
The outdoor access points, including an omni-directional access point from Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, keep employees connected as they walk between buildings or sit in nearby pavilion. There’s also an outdoor planetary surface simulation used by the program to test and evaluate robotic and autonomous applications that requires high-speed internet.
“DES was involved all the way from the design to the installation and helping us map out different areas to make sure we have [wireless] coverage where we need to and [where we don’t] to ensure high security for our customers,” Cavanaugh said.
Cybersecurity upgrades have also been extremely important in recent years.
“We’ve actually spent a lot of time and resources lately in the cybersecurity realm. We’ve installed new [Fortinet] FortiGate network firewall devices, we have an intrusion protection device and some other network type things that we’ve done through [Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise] with all of DES’ help and support to stay as safe and secure as we can,” Cavanaugh explained.
NASA IV&V also has about 100 employees who work offsite so secure, remote access is critical.
Cavanaugh said, “We have a full gamete of security measures in place for both our onsite employees and offsite employee between remote access, ensuring that remote users can effectively use a VPN, but also are protecting the internal network and its data.”
To save money and maximize efficiency, solutions were designed in a way to keep much of the equipment in one, centralized location.
That helps Cavanaugh and his team keep things running smoothly for not only NASA but other tenants in the building that include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Defense.
For Cavanaugh, it’s DES’ expertise that proves invaluable time and time again.
“Instead of hiring new people we can use DES for our reach back and utilize them when needed,” he explained, adding, “It really creates a good symbiotic relationship where we gain a lot of benefit from their services.”
And the support offered by DES, despite a nearly two-hour drive from DES’ offices in West Mifflin just outside of Pittsburgh to NASA IV&V’s facility, is unmatched.
“DES has always been there. There’s never been a time I can say that they haven’t been there for us,” Cavanaugh said. “We’ve had to reach out, even at one o’clock in the morning when we’ve had some network issues or something. We can just make one phone call and they’re there for us and we’ve always appreciated that.”
He concluded, “I highly recommend DES for a range of services. We’ve been a long partner with them for a number of years and plan to continue that. We can rely on them for just about anything we need to do.”