5G wireless networks are a clear example of new network services that agencies can adopt through the General Services Administration’s $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract. However, GSA is also keen for agencies to be able to deploy software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) via the contract.
Jim Russo, telecommunications manager of EIS solutions development in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, recently asked EIS contractors in a letter for “advice on ways to set an easier path to order SD-WAN services through the contract, as well as advice on how to offer and price the services,” FCW reports.
SD-WAN, which is still nascent in the federal government, can allow an agency to provision network resources virtually and as they are needed, in a more secure way than traditional networks, as FedTech has reported. SD-WAN uses software to manage network operations across a large geographical region, giving agencies greater flexibility and control.
“SD-WAN services are being requested and proposed under EIS using existing contract services such as managed network services, transport services and service-related equipment,” a GSA spokesperson told FCW in a Sept. 20 statement. “The EIS team has requested input from the EIS suppliers to determine a more structured way to specify and provide SD-WAN services under EIS. We’ve received comments from all primes and one subcontractor. These are currently in review.”
GSA Wants to Make It Easier for Agencies to Procure SD-WAN
EIS allows agencies to deploy SD-WAN, but it can be complicated to order such services, according to FCW, and there are not many specifics about how agencies can procure the technology.
According to FCW, Russo asked the prime EIS contractors detailed questions about what carriers are offering to commercial customers, how agency spending on SD-WAN and traditional WANs would compare, how agencies can use scaled bandwidth, and whether services will be offered on a consumption-based model or at a fixed price.
The GSA has made clear that software-defined networking technologies such as SD-WAN are critical to agencies’ network modernization efforts.
“We are really working with our industry partners to bring the types of things that are out there on the commercial side. For example, software-defined wide area networks are some of the capabilities we are bringing to bear through EIS,” Allen Hill, the director of the Telecommunications Services Office at the GSA, said in August at an event sponsored by industry group ACT-IAC, according to Federal News Network.
“Today’s network is not what we need to support the Cloud Smart initiative,” Hill added. “We have to create a network that is based on cloud technology, and that is going to take a heavy lift to do that and it will take time.”
EIS is expected to extend until 2032. Technology will be updated and refreshed continually under the vehicle, and the contract also builds in time at the end for a transition to a new vehicle.