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Business Observer Friday, Apr. 22, 2011 11 years ago

Virtual Defense

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Jocelyn Noble's FedTech Services provides computer networking and management services to the armed forces, allowing them to stay a step ahead of the enemy.
by: Carl Cronan Editor/Tampa Bay

In her own unique way, Jocelyn Noble is helping contribute to our nation's defense.

The 34-year-old Philippines native started FedTech Services Inc. to design software programs for the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base as well as the armed forces in Afghanistan. Federal government contracts have allowed the Tampa-based company to make a nearly sixfold leap in revenue, from $3.5 million in 2009 to $20 million last year.

Put in less-technical terms, FedTech designs hardware and software for computer programs used in combat, under the name Theater Network Management Architecture. The technology allows troops in all branches of the armed forces to access real-time information to help them take preventative measures to minimize possible damage, intrusions or threats.

“We ask them what they really need, they tell us and we go from there,” Noble says. “It's like designing solutions for the troops. It's really nice to be able to help our war fighters.”

TNMA ties together the network of “stovepipe” channels previously established by various branches and agencies supported by U.S. Central Command (CentCom). It allows secure cross-connections and interchange at a local level, instead of routing information halfway around the world and back, with greater speed and security.

Noble and her husband, Allen, operated a computer training firm called Software Beacon for six years prior to launching FedTech in 2008. They folded the original business into the new company and used their personal savings to launch FedTech, which led to their first $50,000 contract with CentCom. Goverment contracts in the millions of dollars followed, topped by a $16.9 million network management contract awarded last year by CentCom.

Noble says she would like to expand beyond government contracting into providing information technology services for the private sector, though that will likely require more personnel than the 32 employees she has now, some of whom are retired from the military.

“It's hard to deal with government and commercial at the same time,” she says. “We need more bandwidth. Working with government takes a lot of time, including late nights, because we have deadlines.”

Fortunately, she says, she is able to delegate various tasks among her staff. “It's all about teamwork,” she says. “I couldn't do it without them.”

Future plans for FedTech's growth involve providing network design services to state governments, as well as the Canadian provinces. The company recently established an office in Ottawa to pursue international business.

When she isn't working on ways to support U.S. troops, Noble takes on other community efforts such as serving as vice president of the Philippine/American Chamber of Commerce. There, she helps with the KidSafe program, a service that makes online technology safer for children by guarding against cyberbullying and online sexual predators.

Noble says she also likes to play Scrabble online, using two computer monitors with several games going simultaneously. Her highest score is 524, she says, and next year she plans to pursue a spot in the National Scrabble Championship.

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