Can Your Network Adapt to Current and Future Demands? With SD-WAN, It Can!

Posted by Laura Stanton
on January 14, 2021

How adaptable is your network?

Think back on how your organization worked through the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and you’ll have your answer.

Having a Modernized Infrastructure Paid Off

Agencies with modernized services such as Ethernet-based networks and software-based IP phones were able to operate with minimal disruption as their workforce shifted to full time telework. They took advantage of scalable bandwidth to quickly meet increased network requirements without the need for physical or onsite changes. This agility is one of the many advantages of modern infrastructure and cloud deployed applications. IP Voice users similarly kept making calls regardless of their physical location, and those with Unified Communications leveraged capabilities such as chat, conferencing, collaboration tools and presence applications to keep their workforce on mission.

SD-WAN Integrates and Orchestrates Your Network

IT leaders are actively seeking to implement a new networking technology called Software Defined – Wide Area Network (SD-WAN). SD-WAN can securely connect your headquarters, data centers, branch offices, and remote workers with numerous cloud-based services. SD-WAN can enable Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) use cases, segment users and applications, and play a role in Zero Trust Network architectures.

SD-WAN Is Now a Managed Service Under EIS

We recently added SD-WAN to our Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract. SD-WAN is ideal for improving network performance since it increases visibility and control enterprise-wide. It saves money and increases performance by allowing the use of different types of internet connections such as broadband internet, 4G/5G wireless internet or high-availability Direct Internet Access based on availability and need. It can even be incorporated with existing Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) circuits for critical applications.

SD-WAN Features and Ordering At-a-Glance

Our team created four new use cases for SD-WAN, Ethernet, IP Voice and Traditional TIC to show key info as a handy reference. These single-page infographics highlight the technologies we see driving modernization, the business value those technologies can offer you, and our implementation recommendations. We also offer supporting documents such as in-depth savings analyses, service guides, and whitepapers.

Software Defined - Wide Area Network graphic
SD-WAN Modernization Use Case pictured above. Download the PDF version.

In a GSA analysis of SD-WAN, medium-sized agencies can achieve a cost avoidance of 42%. Our SD-WAN Overview and Ordering Guide lays out everything you need to evaluate SD-WAN and acquire it on EIS. How’s your network able to support the ever-expanding use of cloud services? Utilize the numerous GSA resources to assist your organization to modernize with SD-WAN.

For additional information on what IT modernization could look like for your agency, please contact your designated GSA representative or call 855-482-4348.

Visit the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions page to learn more and use our IT Solutions Navigator to find the vehicle that’s right for you.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Public Sector 5G Strategy Series – Part 1: Technology

Posted by Laura Stanton
on June 16, 2020

The Wheel Is Turning

If you’ve scrolled through social media or watched live TV lately, you’ve likely seen an ad for 5G. If you find yourself wondering why there is so much conversation about 5G –you are not alone. Is it worth all of this attention?

We think so. 5G is set to revolutionize the world’s telecommunications infrastructure, paving the way for even greater use of autonomous devices and expanding the number of interconnected devices in the Internet of Things (IoT).

In October 2019, GSA held its first public event about 5G, where government and industry experts gave us a compelling look at the rollout of next generation networks, discussed how they’ll support IoT applications, and outlined the steps necessary to secure this new hyperconnected future.

Going forward, we’ll be sharing a series of posts outlining how we expect 5G will drive change across government, and what agencies should do to prepare. 5G means different things to different people, so our “5G for Government” strategy is best visualized as a wheel composed of six core concepts:

  • Technology
  • Standards
  • Security
  • Policy
  • Acquisition
  • Use Cases

This post will look at the evolution of the technology enabling 5G, and more importantly, the types of devices, applications, and services that will soon depend on it.

New Tech, Same Trends

The first cellular telephones hit the market in the mid-1970s and offered wireless voice calling over an analog network. In the early 90s, this first generation cellular technology, using analog telecommunications standards, transitioned to a 2G digital network, allowing both voice and data to travel wirelessly between devices.

3G and 4G gave us mobile internet and streaming video, respectively, leading to the rise of the smartphone and entirely new industries, such as mobile application development and cross-platform analytics.

Remember when you couldn’t open an email attachment on your phone or send a photo—let alone a video—over a wireless network? When did that change?

Most people could not tell you which network generation enabled what feature, only that devices became faster, applications more data dependent, and new services arose as capabilities increased.

The same will be true for 5G, but due to its engineered flexibility and vast capacity for high-speed data transfer, the changes will come sooner and reach far beyond communications.

Why 5G Is Different

Since 5G is still new to the market, what we can say about its current technology is limited. Indeed, many experts will tell you that 5G was designed to support applications and services that are still largely confined to a laboratory setting. For now, when we look at the technology, we can only compare it to what’s currently on the market, but when we do, it becomes apparent that we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Changing Devices

Take the smartphone, for instance. Right now, a phone on a 4G network downloads data at approximately 12-36 megabits per second (Mbps). A 5G enabled phone clocks in at 50 Mbps at minimum. Phones on the fastest commercial networks can reach 1,000 (1 gigabit) per second, and average speeds are expected to exceed 10 Gbps as the technology matures.

How does it reach these speeds? 5G transmitters use higher frequency radio waves, some in or near the millimeter wave band of the electromagnetic spectrum. Bandwidth is much more plentiful there, which greatly increases the capacity and speed of data transfer. Instead of a single cellular antenna, the 5G phone contains multiple receivers, allowing it to process all this data over multiple streams, in parallel. You could liken it to filling a glass of water from the bottom up, and the top down, at the same time. 

Smaller, More Flexible Networks

Like their predecessors, 5G networks are digital cellular networks, in which the service area covered by providers is divided into a mosaic of small geographical areas called cells. While conventional cell phone towers are hundreds of feet tall, millimeter wave antennas are only a few inches long. Though an individual antenna may only cover a small area, multiple antennas can work together as phased arrays to beam data straight to the user. This technique, known as beamforming, is one of many ways that 5G networks can be optimized to improve performance while it serves huge numbers of devices.

Open To Innovation

Small but mighty, 5G networks could be used to provide general home and office internet connections. A technique called network slicing could be used to segment a larger 5G network into highly customizable “slices,” managed and operated independent of the infrastructure owner, tailored to unique business needs. When used in conjunction with software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), 5G could replace outdated cable connections in government offices, campuses, and military bases.

Edge computing is another exciting concept made practical by 5G. This technique involves creating a cloud-based IT service environment at the edge of the cell, leveraging its unique properties and raw power to move computational workloads physically closer to the user. Theoretically, sophisticated edge computing could eliminate the need for physical hard drives and bulky device components, as the actual computing would occur in the cloud and beam compiled data directly to a screen or user interface. Battery sizes would shrink, ushering in new opportunities for wearable and drone technology.

Hypercharged wireless internet and robust cloud computing are just the start. The high data rate and low latency of 5G are envisioned as opening up many new applications in the near future. The use of data-heavy virtual and augmented reality applications in healthcare and research is one promising example. Another is 5G’s facilitation of fast machine-to-machine interactions in the coming Internet of Things . For example, computers in vehicles would continuously communicate with each other, sensors on the road, and real-time, artificial intelligence) generated directions using 5G. This is the kind of “smart grid” cities will have to deploy to support self-driving cars. Over time, communication capabilities and computing power will combine and extend across networks and devices, and information and computing power will be instantaneously available. This will encourage a wave of innovation in applications, services and functions built to run on the new infrastructure. 

Lightning speed, expanded capacity, and massive connectivity are the defining characteristics of current 5G networks and enabled devices. These conditions are ideal for emerging technologies to take root.  

More than that, 5G is widely expected to be a defining stage in the global evolution of IT in general, affecting almost all parts of industry and society. In subsequent posts, we’ll take a look at the standards on which it will all be built and explore the security considerations around its deployment. 

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Until then, please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Registration Open for Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS): Path to the Future Sessions

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on June 3, 2020

GSA’s EIS Path to the Future online series will focus on sharing best practices that will help federal agencies prepare for EIS transition activities.

Be sure to attend if you are a:

  • CIO/IT staff member
  • Contracting Officer
  • Contracting Specialist
  • Financial staff member
  • Program manager
  • Project manager
  • Telecom staff member
  • Transition executive or manager

You can sign up to attend some or all of the sessions listed below. Attendees will earn one Continuous Learning Point (CLP) for each session attended – up to six for the series. Your GSA support team will be available to answer your questions during the event.

The sessions:

Tips for Proposal Evaluation
Wednesday, June 10
2 to 3 p.m. (ET)
Join us to hear from DOI about how they sustained their EIS task-order award after a GAO protest and the lessons they learned that will benefit all agencies.

Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) 3
Wednesday, June 17
3 to 4 p.m. (ET)
In this session, you’ll learn from GSA and DHS/CISA what’s expected of agencies to protect their networks. Discover what is available to help your agency meet security requirements using EIS. We will discuss how solutions can be packaged to provide the security you need now and will need later.

Transition Closeout
Thursday, June 18
2 to 3 p.m. (ET)
As government agencies move to the EIS acquisition vehicle, legacy telecommunications contracts will expire. GSA will limit the use of its legacy telecommunications contracts and freeze all future growth on those vehicles. Extended use of these contracts is limited to agencies who are making sufficient transition progress to be 100% off the expiring contracts by September 30, 2022. The Networks Authorized User List (NAUL) will be updated to remove users in phases, which is expected to begin in summer 2020. In addition, GSA will stop processing any new Networx/WITS contract modifications and any new LSA implementation orders on October 1, 2020. Join us for this session to ensure that your agency is positioned well for the future and will avoid disruptions in service.

EIS Ordering
Wednesday, June 24
2:30 to 3:30 p.m. (ET)
After your task order is awarded and you’ve developed your implementation plan with your EIS supplier, it’ll be time to begin the ordering process. This interactive discussion will review who should be involved, what information needs to be conveyed, and how an agency begins the process. GSA will share all of this – and more – to help you expedite your ordering process.

Rules and Tips for Awarding EIS Contract Modifications Prior to Awarding Task Orders
Wednesday, July 15
2 to 3 p.m. (ET)
This session will cover the authorization of orders, Network Site Codes (NSCs) not in the traffic model, requesting status of vendor submissions (modifications) that affect your task-order award(s), and modification priority.

Solutions to Modernize your Enterprise Network
Wednesday, July 22
2 to 3 p.m. (ET)
During this session, we’ll discuss advancements in network technologies – such as software-defined networking and managed security services – and how your agency can leverage these technologies as part of your EIS modernization plan. We will also explore the as-a-service model common with cloud computing and its applicability to network services.

On the registration page, check the boxes for each one-hour event you would like to attend. You must have a .gov or .mil email address to register.

Sign up for some or all of the sessions today!

For more information, visit our pages for EIS and the EIS transition. Members of the media who would like more information or to attend should contact us at press@gsa.gov.

GSA is here to help! If you have questions about EIS or the EIS transition, please contact your telecom agency manager.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Attend GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service Training Conference

Posted by Keith Nakasone
on December 3, 2019

We pride ourselves on the close relationships that we’ve built with industry. These partnerships enable us to help agencies across the government achieve mission success.

Industry’s solutions and expertise are critical in helping government fuel IT modernization and transformation.

These close relationships don’t come easily, though. Both GSA and industry have to put in the time and effort to get to know each other. This helps us better understand industry’s latest solutions — enabling us to better represent them to the agencies who need them.

That’s why GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service is holding FAST 2020. FAST 2020 will bring together thousands of experts — both government and industry — in one place, allowing unparalleled collaboration. We encourage our industry partners to register today!

Why You Should Attend

Participating industry partners will be able to:

  • Benefit from accessing the most comprehensive federally sponsored training event for contract management, procurement, and acquisition professionals in the nation.
  • Directly engage with 3,000+ federal contracting professionals as well as senior policy and program leaders under one roof, saving travel and time away.
  • Master the latest government e-tools and processes, and learn from the experts.
  • Meet face-to-face with master contracting officers.
  • Network with large and small businesses in similar industries and develop teaming arrangements to win future business.
  • Showcase company offerings, live, on the show floor.
  • Gather more and better market intelligence to advance your company’s competitive advantage.

Small businesses will benefit in additional ways:

  • Meet multiple contracting officers in one setting.
  • Save money: participating in one large event is more efficient than many smaller events.

Two Ways to Participate

Industry can participate in FAST 2020 in two main ways:

Participant – Industry has an entire dedicated training track. We are planning other activities (such as industry matchmaking sessions) to benefit and strengthen our industry partner relationships. Find detailed information about Industry-focused training sessions under the Training Sessions tab on our conference registration site.

Industry Exhibitor – The FAST 2020 Exhibit Show Floor is 270,000 square feet and will be organized into 10 Category Communities.

As GSA, we’ve set aside two huge spaces (50 ft x 50 ft) for us:

  • We’ll use the first as our main GSA booth, where we’ll host a small training theater, with kiosks dedicated to each of the 10 federal categories.
  • We’ll use the second space to host our GSA e-lab, where conference participants can get hands-on experience with our suite of e-tools!

Industry exhibit space sales will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign up now to exhibit at FAST 2020.

Join Us

FAST 2020 is going to be big. It’s our first conference since 2011 in San Diego. I hope that you’ll join me in Atlanta, GA, April 14-16.

I look forward to meeting those of you I haven’t yet met and catching up with old friends.

To learn more about FAST 2020 visit www.gsa.gov/FAST.

Register here today!

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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GSA, Customers, and Vendors Meet in Texas for 2019 ITC Acquisition Summit

Posted by Keith Nakasone
on October 1, 2019

This August, we brought nearly 300 representatives from government and industry together for our 2019 IT Acquisition Summit. Collaborative events like this are critical to our success in supporting agency missions across government.

We met in Fort Worth, home of GSA’s Greater Southwest Region 7, which spans Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. We used a human-centered design approach to generate open communication and collaboration between GSA and our industry partners. Learning through use-cases and sharing information helps us better understand the challenges and constraints both government and industry have.

The summit was held in coordination with the Advanced Technology Academic Research Center (ATARC) and moderated by its president, Tom Suder. During the first day, attendees heard from various GSA and industry representatives on popular topics such as cybersecurity, mobility, 5G, emerging tech, and IT modernization. 

Dennis Shingleton, member of the City Council and mayor pro tempore, opened the summit with a boisterous Texas-style welcome.

I moderated the kick-off session with panelists Bill Zielinski, Assistant Commissioner of the IT Category; Anahita Reilly, Chief Customer Officer of the Office of Customer Experience; and Dominic Sale, Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Operations for Technology Transformation Services. They discussed GSA’s approach to IT modernization, category management, and shared services.

An afternoon panel from the Mobility Services Category Team discussed the 5G rollout, how it will shape public-sector adoption of Internet of Things applications, and its implications for supply chain security. Allen Hill, director of the Office of Telecommunications, opened the session, and Sam Navarro, program manager of the Enterprise Mobility Program, moderated the panel. Representatives from AT&T, Verizon, MetTel, and T-Mobile discussed the state of mobile technology and how consumers of 5G determine the new ways they will use the technology.

Our summit concluded with opportunities to attend one-on-one sessions with GSA acquisition professionals and an interactive use-case workshop.

We plan on hosting the IT Acquisition Summit again in 2020 — slated for Washington, D.C. The open communication and collaboration in a focused setting foster the type of game-changing ideas we need to continue enhancing IT acquisition for the whole of government.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

To get updates for this blog, please sign up on the right-hand side of the page where it says Sign up for Blog Updates.

*Photographs above by James Wronski, Carahsoft

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EIS and IT Modernization: Foundation for the Future

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on August 6, 2019

As IT professionals, we know what it means for an organization to be data-driven. The infrastructure on which that data moves is critical to the government’s mission success and the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract will serve as the foundation for public-sector technological transformation.

Modern Telecom: Far From Phones

Telecommunications services enable practically all information technology (IT) in every government agency. The establishment, maintenance, and modernization of communications networks are key components of our government’s ability to meet its mission.

We support agencies’ global missions with a complete spectrum of IT and telecommunications services, infrastructure and equipment.

We offer:

  • access services
  • accessible telecommunications
  • managed network services
  • network applications
  • satellite services and applications
  • telecommunications services
  • wireless and mobile networking

We bring together our technical and acquisition experts, leading industry partners, and agency specialists to offer these services efficiently, effectively, and at a lower cost to taxpayers.

The Future is Flexible

IT modernization is a national priority with bipartisan support from Congress, the White House, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Each federal agency is at a different point in the network modernization process and can deploy new technology at different rates.

New IT modernization guidance and legislation, combined with market changes and citizen expectations, are driving the demand for transformative technological change at unprecedented levels.

EIS: Made for Modernization

EIS is a catalyst for IT modernization. To expand bandwidth, EIS will help agencies move away from time-division multiplexing technology to more modern services. It will replace legacy voice services with Voice over Internet Protocol or unified communications. Rather than having each agency design and operate multiple parts of a network, EIS will use cost-saving managed services, such as cloud migration.

EIS will also embed security components directly in network services purchases, thus helping agencies proactively defend their systems. EIS is the only federal contract to include both Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity requirements as well as OMB policy directives.

Simplicity Brings Savings

Under EIS, agencies can structure their acquisitions from a single source, dramatically simplifying the process. This EIS feature promotes cost savings through aggregated federal buying, which can deliver a monthly savings of 16-21%.

To open opportunities for small businesses and foster competition, EIS relaxed its geographical coverage requirement and reduced the number of mandatory services.

As a Best-in-Class solution, EIS will ensure customers receive pre-vetted and secure solutions to protect their systems, data, and people.

The Big Picture

As agencies transition to EIS, they get a major opportunity to address legacy systems and meet their network-related IT Modernization requirements using a more holistic, strategic approach. Migrating to cloud infrastructure, enhanced mobility, automation, satellite communications, and cybersecurity are common topics among agency officials and policymakers.

But for an agency to truly modernize, the practice of simply replacing legacy equipment and adhering to traditional, fixed-price contracting models—the so-called, “Like for Like” approach—will not be enough. We now plan and pay for technology according to the services we consume, not just the products we acquire.

EIS was designed to allow agencies to use this consumption-based pricing model, so they can access new and emerging technologies as their needs evolve and opportunities arise.

Collaboration is Key

EIS represents a landmark collaboration among GSA, federal agencies, and industry innovators on a simple, flexible solution. Just recently, we hosted over 120 customers at our second annual EIS conference. The event allowed IT leaders, telecommunications providers, contracting officers, project managers, and finance specialists to meet and learn how the EIS transition will support their IT modernization goals.

Roadmap

In December 2018, we announced we were extending the current legacy telecommunications contracts to 2023. Agencies have less than four more years to transition to EIS.

The EIS Transition Roadmap shows important milestones, namely:

  • September 30, 2019: Deadline for awarding EIS task orders.
  • March 31, 2020: Use of the extended contracts will be limited for agencies who have not made task order awards.
  • March 31, 2022: 90% of agencies’ telecom inventory must be off expiring contracts
  • May 31, 2023: Current contracts expire.

Have questions about how to accelerate your progress in meeting these milestones? Connect with our customer support team at gsa.gov/nspsupport.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Think IT Modernization? Think GSA

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on October 29, 2018

Our mission in the Office of Information Technology Category (ITC) is to “maximize customer value and mission productivity through IT acquisition.” As the largest provider of IT acquisition solutions for government, it is absolutely critical that we ride the bleeding edge of IT innovation. As a service to agencies and taxpayers, we adopt innovative solutions early on and apply them to our own processes — we learn about new technologies by using them. Efforts like this position us to even more effectively help agencies face their future mission needs.

In a blog post last December, we announced our experimentation with distributed ledger technology (DLT) — commonly referred to as “blockchain.” At the time we had just completed a proof of concept to further enhance our Making it Easier FASt Lane proposal review process. We found that DLT can automate many of the manual business processes and steps required to award a new IT Schedule 70 contract. This includes time-intensive tasks such as financial reviews and development of pre-negotiation memoranda, freeing up our workforce to focus on more meaningful responsibilities. DLT also modernizes the award process making it easier, more efficient, and faster for those new contract holders.

IT modernization is a major focus of this administration. Our work with DLT is an excellent example of leveraging emerging technologies to enhance existing systems — to reimagine how we build using an agile methodology to effectively modernize over time. The crawl/walk/run method that we’re using to implement DLT highlights one best-practice path to modernization.

First, We Crawled – What We Did

In July 2017, we kicked off the proof of concept (POC) as an award under the simplified acquisition threshold. This acquisition strategy used an agile acquisition and development approach and had a short, six-week delivery schedule. The entire POC only cost $150,000.

Now We Walk – Development

The POC demonstrated how we could use DLT to help automate our acquisition workforce, specifically touching and entering data only once into a single solution.

To expand the project’s scope, this May we awarded a contract for a pilot. Where the POC tested the waters limited to IT Schedule 70, the pilot has a wider scope: the Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program (aka the Schedules). We plan to look across the entire enterprise to find out where we’ll gain the most benefits within the Schedules program.

The pilot will create a DLT-based software layer over GSA’s existing infrastructure which creates transparency and documents activities between industry partners (contractors/vendors) and GSA.

This layer will make the proposal review process accountable and allow for a controlled reduction in fixed costs. Also, the pilot automates financial reviews and other GSA Schedules business processes.

For example, we can identify offerors with substandard financial ratios based on the average (as reported by the IRS) of their respective NAICs code. Offerors with poor financial ratios will be flagged for further review; if the ratios look good they will move to the next step.

This first pilot will break down and modularize the workstream and build out a micro-service for the financial responsibility process. Implementing a manageable business process, this will enable us to more simply capture information and to build analytics.

Next, We’ll Run – Production/Sustainment

If the pilot is successful, we’ll continue its development and our efforts to make this a reality by awarding another contract for a full-scale production.

Think IT Modernization? Think GSA

Our team has the expertise and agility to try new things and test new IT solutions. We launch, test, learn, and then use those lessons learned to support our customers.

So, when you think about modernizing your IT systems, think GSA! We have the experts and acquisition solutions in place to make IT modernization a reality for the federal government.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

The five steps to accelerate the process to award contracts and make life better for the workforce and vendors.

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Achieving IT Modernization Through EIS

Posted by Kay Ely
on May 22, 2018

Author: Crystal Philcox, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, IT Category

The federal government is in the middle of an unprecedented opportunity to modernize and create an infrastructure that works to help agencies deliver services to today’s workforce and the American people — that means more reliable, efficient, and mobile networks.

The Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract is specifically designed to help agencies achieve this goal. With its recent Best-In-Class (BIC) designation, agencies can leverage the contract to meet established goals to modernize their networks and deliver better, faster services as well as gain significant cost savings.

EIS Has Everything You Need: Complete Solution for IT Modernization

EIS isn’t just a telecom contract, its a total solution to help agencies modernize. Agencies benefit through cost savings and the ability to tap a common contract instead of cobbling together their own solutions. EIS can be used for managed services, security and telecom services — it has everything agencies need to modernize their networks.

Modernized networks mean higher bandwidth, better performance, and more network reliability. And, bandwidth is dramatically cheaper in modernized networks. Furthermore, modernized networks can embed cybersecurity features that adapt to changing threat models.

The potential savings with fully taking advantage of modernizing networks using EIS are huge. Because of the consolidated buying power we have under GSA contracts, we realized a savings with EIS prices that average 21 percent lower than our current contract, Networx. That’s real money that agencies can put back into application modernization or cloud migration.

To achieve the advantages of EIS through modernization, agencies should consider the following keys to success:

  • Make transition a high priority. Treat it as a critical project.
  • Modernize, wherever possible.
  • Budget for transition and modernization.
  • Ask for GSA’s help, as needed.

Next Steps

There are several opportunities for both agencies and industry to engage in this continuing conversation. Throughout the lead-up to transition, GSA has provided extensive assistance to help agencies prepare for this and we conducted educational sessions on how to structure solicitations so modernized networks can be purchased efficiently.  Over the past few weeks, we’ve spent more time with agencies listening to their concerns. What we heard was that a lot of agencies want to modernize, but need more time. We are interested in hearing from any agency that is experiencing that, or any, concern.

We’ve held workshops to help industry share their perspectives on how agencies can modernize legacy enterprise networks. Also, we’ve collected agencies’ forecasts of solicitations and provided detailed timelines to EIS contractors to help them plan their response strategies.

Industry has a significant customer agency outreach effort. EIS suppliers have scheduled numerous meetings with agencies to showcase their capabilities and how they can assist in modernization efforts. Agencies are also hosting “industry days” for the EIS supplier community.

In partnership with government, ACT-IAC has established the Transition/Modernization Working Group. All EIS suppliers and a significant number of agency representatives make up this important initiative.

On May 24, GSA is hosting a “Meet Your EIS Industry Partners Day” at GSA Headquarters. This will provide another avenue for agencies to meet and discuss their individual mission needs with EIS suppliers. We want agencies to come with their ideas about what they want to achieve through network modernization and talk to the EIS industry partners about those ideas and how best to get them done. Register here!

And on June 19, ACT-IAC is hosting an IT Modernization Conference focusing on how the transition from Networx offers an opportunity to transform and modernize legacy network architecture.

We encourage you to join us at these events and look forward to hearing your ideas on modernizing networks.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Recent Successes Inspire Our Way Forward

Posted by Kay Ely
on December 28, 2017

By Kay Ely, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Information Technology Category

As the end of the year approaches, I’m full of pride looking back on the accomplishments of the Office of Information Technology Category (ITC) in 2017.

Our team has achieved best-in-class (BIC) designations on a number of important contract vehicles and we’re continuing to work towards BIC on others. We launched — or are on the verge of launching — a number of significant contract vehicles, including Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), Alliant 2, Alliant 2 Small Business, and Veterans Technology Services 2 (VETS 2). We further advanced our offerings for cybersecurity, geospatial, wireless solutions, and many others.

Each of these efforts will help our customers accomplish their missions with greater efficiency and lower costs in 2018.

Since taking the reins of ITC, I’ve challenged the team to follow three guiding principles:

  • Achieve breakthrough performance
  • Be a catalyst for customer mission success
  • Shape government-wide IT acquisition

As we wrap up 2017, I’d like to share just a few stories of how ITC has done this, working with agencies and our industry partners.

Using Innovative Solutions to Achieve Breakthrough Performance

We recently completed our proof of concept to use Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to further enhance the Making it Easier FASt Lane proposal review process. DLT will allow us to automate many of the manual business processes and steps required to award a new IT Schedule 70 contract. Including time-intensive things like financial reviews and developing the pre-negotiation memoranda.

Using innovative technologies such as DLT will have a major impact on making it easier to do business with GSA. It will make the award process more efficient for new contract holders by not only reducing the award timeline but also decreasing industry’s burden. Additionally, we expect this to significantly lower the direct cost to award a contract. This is just one example of our breakthrough performance over the last year.

Helping Agencies Achieve their Missions

The Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Disaster Assistance (ODA) supported hurricane relief efforts. To achieve their mission, the team needed 1,000 laptops — and they needed them fast.

GSA’s IT hardware team quickly connected with the SBA to help. Our BIC Government-wide Strategic Solutions (GSS) Laptop/Desktop program, that offers pre-negotiated standard pricing for laptop configurations, was just what SBA needed. They placed the order for laptops in less than one week.

It resulted in a reduced delivery time of approximately two weeks and saved the SBA nearly $75,000. The order was awarded to an 8(a) small, women-owned business under IT Schedule 70.

SBA was so pleased with GSA’s price, performance, and quality of goods, they issued follow on orders for an additional 1,500 laptops and 2,140 monitors.

Shaping Government-wide IT Acquisition Everyday

The IT world is always changing, with advances in technology, shifting buying patterns and delivery methods, and a growing competitive landscape.  We strive everyday to improve how government buys IT.

In 2017, we made great progress with implementing category management. This has changed the way we operate and has helped us to better meet market demands, improve our operations, and enhance our customer solutions.

Everywhere you look in ITC you’ll see innovations in acquisition. We’ve baked in the ability to rapidly onboard new technologies into new contracts from the beginning. Startups are finding it easier than ever to deliver innovative solutions thanks to our Startup Springboard program.  And, our work to provide constructive input into the IT modernization process will help usher in a new era of modern government.

Paving the Way Forward

We’re leading the way in helping the government buy IT smarter. 2017 was an incredible year, marked by a number of important milestones — 2018 is looking just as promising.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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