Apr 29 2020

Agencies Outsource Management of Basic IT Capabilities

Air Force, DHA, Transportation and others are piloting Enterprise as a Service solutions.

Federal agencies that don’t want to be in the business of running basic IT systems, software and platforms are learning to outsource that responsibility to third-party vendors under the new Enterprise as a Solution (EaaS) model.

“We’re beginning to figure out how to consume these things without our IT guys being wrench-turners,” says Dovarius Peoples, Army Corps of Engineers CIO. The Corps is working on a new enterprise IT contract that will cover everything from telephony to data.

While private industry has been using the model for years, the federal government is just catching on. Most projects are in early or pilot phases.

The Air Force is leading the way, ­experimenting with EaaS at eight bases. If it works, the model could be scaled up to 20 installations. The service has awarded contracts to Microsoft and Dell EMC, among others.

It’s a big shift in the acquisition mindset, says Col. Gerald Yap, who works for the Air Force CIO.

“In the past, we focused on infrastructure and managing the upgrades internally,” Yap says. The new model allows the Air Force “to buy capabilities rather than invest in infrastructure that must be routinely replaced.” 

That includes computing, storage and cloud migration that will be paid for on a cost-per-user basis.

Agencies Shift IT Focus to Core Capabilities 

Issues that still must be addressed include legacy interoperability and policies. “This is a huge undertaking,” Yap says. “We have to make this affordable.”

Last fall, the Army awarded EaaS contracts to Verizon Network Services, Microsoft and AT&T. These pilot projects will supply networking, end-user security, computing and storage services to the Army Futures Command in Austin, Texas; Camp Roberts, the California National Guard base in ­central California; and Fort Polk in Vernon Parish, La.

“This will allow the Army to move from providing basic IT and telecommunications services back to our core competency of providing the best deployable communications,” says Maj. Charles Patterson, spokesman for U.S. Army Cyber Command.

The Defense Health Agency is also working to standardize the implementation of EaaS, including Active Directory and on-premises infrastructure.

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Civilian Agencies Embrace Enterprise IT as a Service 

Civilian agencies are interested as well. The Department of Transportation recently awarded a $650 million ­enterprise IT shared-services contract including mail, hosting, network ­management, disaster recovery and ­end-user support.

And the U.S. Mint has a similar, $70 million contract offering cybersecurity, cloud migration, infrastructure operations and service desk functions.

“It’s becoming a pervasive, modern model,” says Cameron Chehreh, Dell Technologies Federal Systems vice ­president.

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