U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Johnnie Robinson, 2nd Theater Signal Brigade command group noncommissioned officer, uses a government computer with Microsoft Windows 10 operating system.

Oct 14 2019

Army, DHA Embrace Enterprise IT as a Service Models

The DOD arms are following the lead of the Air Force in outsourcing day-to-day IT operations.

The shift to managed services across the Defense Department is continuing apace, with the Army and Defense Health Agency hopping on the bandwagon.

The model they have embraced, formally known as Enterprise IT as a Service (EITaaS), is essentially a managed IT service framework that outsources day-to-day technology operations to commercial providers so that personnel can focus on cybersecurity and other mission-critical IT functions.

In late September, the Army issued a trio of prototype EITaaS contracts under other transaction agreement awards to AT&T for $5.6 million, Verizon for $9.8 million and Microsoft for $18.2 million.

Meanwhile, the Defense Health Agency issued a request for information that indicates it wants to follow a similar path, though it does not specifically mention EITaaS. 

MORE FROM FEDTECH: Find out if an Enterprise IT as a Service model is right for you.

Army Pushes Ahead with Managed IT Services

The Army plans to pilot the EITaaS model under a fixed-price contract to install contractor-operated networks on small, medium and large bases, Federal News Network reports.

The Army wants to “assess feasibility and deploy commercial solutions for data transport, end-user device provision, and cloud services for selected Army installations,” it said in an earlier request for quotes.

“The goal of the pilot is to assess the feasibility of private sector IT infrastructure investments, operations and best practices; and to implement process and policy improvements to maximize value on the Army’s investment in the network,” the RFQ says.

In March, the Army made clear it would be moving to the EITaaS model, which the Air Force began undertaking in 2018 and which follows the Navy’s consolidation of its IT infrastructure into the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet in 2001. 

Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, the Army’s CIO, has said if the Army proceeded as normal, it would take until at least 2030 to modernize all of that equipment, all while it foots the cost of maintaining the legacy infrastructure, Federal News Network reports.

As the publication has reported, the Army “estimated earlier this year that 70 percent of the servers, routers and end-user devices on its 288 worldwide facilities are at or near the end of life. The figure is even higher for the equipment that handles voice communications — about 90 percent.”

MORE FROM FEDTECH: Find out more about the Air Force’s new digital strategy. 

DHA Indicates It Wants to Outsource IT Operations

Meanwhile, DHA has sought information on a wide range of topics that indicates its interest in a model similar to EITaaS, including IT operations support and lifecycle management, IT asset planning and management, identity management services, help desk, end-user device support and local area network administration. 

The DHA says it has “identified a significant and pressing need to refine its operational IT service delivery model,” the RFI states. 

The DHA wants to explore a “standardized, consistent and repeatable processes for delivery of IT services across the DHA enterprise to optimize use of shared resources. A data-driven, evidence-based and measured improvement of operational processes and IT services through the adoption of industry best practices. A continuous assessment of value and ongoing operational optimization that drives efficiencies through redesign, redirection and/or automation.”

Air Force Continues to Mature Its EITaaS Approach

In late September 2018, the Air Force awarded an $87.4 million contract to AT&T and a $34.4 million contract to Microsoft to continue experiments with the EITaaS model. 

According to FedScoop, the vendors will focus on the Network as a Service portion of the EITaaS shift. Specifically, the contracts call for “experimentation of a secure, reliable, measured, commercial data and voice network in order to enable access to Department of Defense data and applications from DoD facilities, as well as enable access for mobile and remotely located users.” 

The experiments will run at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado; Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Hurlburt Field, Florida; Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico; and Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, through Sept. 30, 2021.

And in late June, the Air Force announced a continuation of its EITaaS initiative by signing a contract with Accenture Federal Services, which will provide the service branch with enterprise IT services at eight Air Force bases. Under that contract, Accenture will provide as-a-service computing and storage capabilities, edge cloud computing and data-driven base operations to support artificial intelligence initiatives.

William B. King/U.S. Army