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FCW : May 15, 2015
May 15, 2015 FCW.COM 17 were made-to-order affairs — espe- cially in government. There’s only one IRS or U.S. Army, so why not tailor the infrastructure to fit? As Google and Facebook have famously demonstrated, however, there are clear upsides to cookie- cutter servers and other components. Others have followed suit, Rossino said, and “the architectures have now developed to a point where the hardware is standardized enough to leverage something like infrastructure as a service.” Dave Bartoletti, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, put it slightly differently: “The cloud works when you make yourself fit to the cloud.” “If you think your relationship with the cloud is ‘I’m going to call...and tell them what I want — what servers I CENTURYLINK AND THE TELECOM TRANSFORMATION cessor to the Networx contracts currently in use and held by AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Level 3 Communications and Sprint. GSA officials have been vocal about wanting more than the traditional telecom companies to pursue the contract, but so far only Harris has come forward to say it will bid as a prime contractor. The contract has several optional require- ments that seem to play to the strengths of systems integrators, but the mandatory requirements are squarely in traditional tele- com companies’ wheelhouse and are most likely too expensive for systems integrators to develop on their own. Therefore, NS2020 could be a major opening for the telecom companies to bring broader IT services to the market and step up as challengers to the more traditional IT providers. The market has been headed in this direction for several years. AT&T and Veri- zon holds spots on large multiple-award IT contracts, such as GSA’s Alliant. AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink also hold spots on GSA’s Schedule 70 IT services vehicle. But GSA’s NS2020 strategy and the EIS contract will push the telecom companies deeper into the IT space. For government buyers, the results should be more choices among providers and contract vehicles and more competition. — Nick Wakeman want, what network I want’ — that defeats the whole model,” he said. “It’s sort of the ‘build it and they will come’ model, versus the ‘what do you want me to build for you?’ model” that has long been prevalent in government. And if government is slowly accli- mating to commodity infrastructure, the rest of the world is catching up when it comes to scale. When most IT systems were on-premise, federal systems often required a scale — again, think IRS or U.S. Army — that could scare off firms not built around government business. For an Amazon or a Google today, however, an agency’s storage or computing needs are not nearly so daunting. Bartoletti pointed to Docker, the popular containerization solution, as a case in point. Containers are “a cool new technology,” he said. “And in the past, a few people would play with it, and take a risk and see if it works. Well, Google now launches 2 billion containers a week. So if you’re the government, and you’re worried about should you deploy your applica- tions in containers — are they safe? Are they stable? Well, of course they are.... You’re not the first one using them anymore. You’re not bleeding edge in the cloud.” According to Soloway, this means that “not only is the IT industry going to market differently as a service model, but the way the technologies are being deployed is fundamentally changing the services economy — or has the potential, at least.” Preconceived notions and missed opportunities Soloway, however, also said he was concerned that agencies might be sell- ing familiar companies short as they look to the cloud. “There is a bit of a sense, I think, among some of the leadership in gov- ernment that the existing traditional contractor base is no longer innovative or agile,” he said. “I think that’s a very dangerous assumption because in any market the suppliers respond to what their customers really want and direct them to do.... The biggest frustration they have is the ability to bring that innovation to the customer.” Wennergren went further by assert- ing that deconstructing the cast of con- tractors risks missing the larger point. “We have this penchant for [say- ing], ‘We’re not getting what we want; therefore, we must need to go to new people to get it,’” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re going to these new guys or the current guys. If you don’t ask for it right, you’re not going to get the kind of innovation that you seek in the future.” n Washington Technology Editor-in- Chief Nick Wakeman contributed to this report. WHEN MOST IT SYSTEMS WERE ON-PREMISE, FEDERAL SYSTEMS OFTEN REQUIRED A SCALE — THINK IRS OR U.S. ARMY — THAT COULD SCARE OFF FIRMS NOT BUILT AROUND GOVERNMENT BUSINESS. 0515fcw_014-017.indd 17 4/22/15 1:55 PM
April 30, 2015
May 30, 2015