By John Rhea
GOLETA, Calif. - A new Web-based information service that Illgen Simulation Technologies Inc. launched last month will enable program managers to access the expertise of leaders in the modeling and simulation fields.
The service is called SimCentral, and one of its features is "Consult with an Expert," in which users can pose technical questions over the World Wide Web and receive recommendations within three days.
The service has completed Beta testing, says David Swan, vice president and general manager of Illgen in Goleta, Calif., and head of the SimCentral effort. The technical areas include discrete event simulation, communication and navigation, rapid prototyping, strategic and tactical systems, propagation modeling, sensors, data acquisition and analysis, and virtual manufacturing.
Swan says he expects to have 300 experts available by the end of the year and to double that number next year. Safeguards to protect confidentiality include firewalls (including one between the service and Illgen itself), public key/private key encryption, and use of the Secure Socket Layer. This is a "double blind" approach, in which neither the questioner nor the expert knows the identity of the other, although the questioner can request the expert`s name and affiliation.
Even before the formal release, SimCentral did have some users in the simulation and modeling community, which Swan calls "friends of the family." The net result is to create what he calls a "virtual team" to provide affordable expertise as needed rather than adding personnel.
Potential users can sample the service, but their access is restricted to public Web information. Membership rates begin at $995 a year, and consultations can be purchased at 10 for $4,000. Additional information is available at http://www. simcentral.com/.