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Monday, October 12, 2009, 06:25 am PT (09:25 am ET)

U.S. Army adopts Apple for new video surveillance

For security, ease of use and features, the U.S. Army has reportedly turned to Apple hardware for four new video surveillance installations.

According to Security Systems News, the Army now has four video surveillance installations based on Mac OS X and Apple servers. Pat Mercer, security business leader/sales manager with Siemens, said the IT department was initially reluctant to go Mac, but as they explored the systems, it became clear it was the best and most secure option.

"When you ask them what their requirements are, they say, 'Low bandwidth, and I need to make sure nothing is going to hack into my network via your system,' Mercer said. "That’s where the Mac conversation begins. The viruses, hacking, all of those things are dramatically minimized with Apple and it eliminates a lot of those challenges."

Chris Gettings, CEO and president of VideoNEXT, said the Mac offers security that Windows cannot, and a user interface far superior to Red Hat Linux.

"It just runs," Gettings said. "You’re not going to have some of the memory-leak issues that seem to plague different versions of the Windows systems. And mission-critical customers appreciate that."

He said he particularly appreciates the consistency found in Apple hardware. When ordering identical servers from Dell two weeks apart, Gettings said he discovered that a chip on the motherboard had been changed. But with Apple, he said, he doesn't need to worry about issues like that. The streamlined hardware also allows him to create a more efficient system.

"He can put as many as 60 cameras on one Apple server that, according the specifications, has the same performance abilities as a Dell or HP server that can only serve 50 cameras," the report said.

The news isn't the first report of the U.S. Army embracing the Apple platform. In 2007, the military branch stepped up its Mac orders to thwart hacking attempts. The Army began shifting away from a Windows-only environment in 2005, when General Steve Boutelle warned that a homogenous operating system environment could expose a computer system to large-scale hacking attempts.

The Army has also used Apple hardware in the field, adopting custom iPods to be used as field translators in Iraq. The U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division reportedly used iPods and iPod nanos modified to run a special application from Vcom 3D known as Vcommunicator Mobile. The system allows soldiers to choose words or phrases to broadcast out of an attached speaker and communicate with locals.