3 Questions Every COTS Vendor Should Ask in Preparation for FY16

End of FY15_CWChris Wiedemann_65 x 85by Chris Wiedemann, Senior Analyst

It’s the last couple days of the 2015 government fiscal year, which to most of us means only one thing: closing year-end business. Selling COTS products to the government can get pretty hectic around this time of year, so you’d be forgiven for overlooking a salient and somewhat worrying fact: we still have no agency funding for FY16.

With exactly 2 days left of FY15 (and counting) the only existing Continuing Resolution (CR) flat lined in the Senate, although Congress does appear poised to pass a clean CR which has a good chance of making it to the President’s desk. Still, they are dealing with a very tight deadline and we might be in for another brief government shutdown before Congress can put a short-term CR in place.

The good news is, we’ve been here before. The beginning of FY14 became famous for its 16-day government shutdown. While it was painful for both the government and its industry partners, COTS manufacturers made a rebound, showing strong results at the end of the fiscal year. In the event of another shutdown, the best advice we can give to the COTS community is “hold tight.” While having most of your customers furloughed to begin a fiscal year isn’t ideal — and the impacts of a shutdown on the larger economy are significant COTS vendors will likely emerge more or less unscathed. All that being said, there are still important questions that need to be answered and issues that need to be addressed as we enter FY16’s uncertain beginning. Read more of this post

Demystifying FedRAMP

Secure cloud

Chris Wiedemann_65 x 85by Chris Wiedemann, Senior Analyst

It’s been almost five full years since federal CIO, Vivek Kundra debuted his 25 Point Plan for IT Reform and it’s safe to say cloud computing has finally arrived on the federal level. A paradigm shift has taken place in the highest ranks of federal IT management. We’ve seen this in the data center consolidation initiative that resulted in private clouds and the rapidly increasing adoption of public Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings. Cloud computing will be a focal point for the government as they continue to see flat budgets and emphasize the importance of agile software development.

However, despite the growth in the federal cloud market, one crucial piece of the puzzle remains poorly understood by most of industry: the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, better known as FedRAMP. Intended to be a common set of security requirements for cloud service providers in the federal space, FedRAMP adoption has been patchy at best, with government end users reluctant to give up certification authority over solutions in their environment, leaving industry partners unclear on what needs to be certified.

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FY16 Priorities for IRS, DHA, and DOS

Chris Wiedemann_65 x 85by Chris Wiedemann, Senior Analyst

AlthoughFY16 Priorities for IRS, DHA, and DOS September is right around the corner (and most of us are preparing ourselves for a few white-knuckle weeks), it’s important to remember that we’re slightly under two months away from another important date: October 1, the first day of government’s 2016 fiscal year. In case you didn’t know, the government will likely begin the year under a continuing resolution (CR) (assuming there isn’t another shutdown). The twelve appropriations bills that would make up the FY16 budget are nowhere close to being passed into law. Moreover, given other priorities facing Congress along with the House’s lengthy August recess, it seems unlikely we’ll see any new funding levels to start the fiscal year. This means you should prepare yourselves for FY16 by referring back to your customers’ FY15 requirements and initiatives.

While it’s helpful to refer to FY15 budget levels when planning your sales efforts, having a solid grasp on the FY16 funding requests is still important because it shows your customers’ future priorities. Although the government might not start the year off with the flexibility new appropriations would give them, operating under CRs is par for the course for federal IT managers these days. They are still able to achieve their missions, and in many cases, carry out new initiatives in the face of funding constraints.

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3 Areas COTS Vendors Can Help the IRS Improve Its Cyber Posture

Chris Wiedemann_65 x 85by Chris Wiedemann, Senior Analyst

As you’ve3 Areas COTS Vendors Can Help the IRS Improve Their Cyber Posture probably heard, a recent cyber-attack on the IRS compromised personal information of more than 100,000 taxpayers via the Get Transcript app on irs.gov. What you may not have heard is according to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, a whopping 2.7 million taxpayers had their identities stolen last year. Combine that with low funding levels and it’s the perfect storm. The IRS can’t keep up with the rapidly-evolving hacker landscape and as a result, has a pressing need for data protection, fraud detection, and vulnerability testing – and very little money to pay it.

The good news (relatively speaking) is challenges like these are the breeding grounds for COTS opportunities. If you provide capabilities in these three areas, you should be targeting the IRS now, working your solutions into FY16 discussions:

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3 Key Takeaways from FY17 Submission Guidelines

Chris Wiedemann_65 x 85by Chris Wiedemann, Senior Analyst

If you’ve noticedOffice of Management and Budget program managers and office directors running around in a frenzy the past few weeks, know it was justified. The Office of Management and Budget just released their FY17 budget submission guidance, meaning program managers have to start the request process all over again. These are always trying times for the people calling the budgetary shots, since they’re faced with the difficult task of balancing current mission requirements, detailed business case justifications for next year’s budget, and estimating funding requirements for October 2016, all at once. At immixGroup, we preach the importance of getting your product baked into system requirements before they are written. The budget request process is the best time to do it.

Here are three key takeaways in the FY17 budget submission guidance that will be front of mind to IT program managers right now:

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NIST’s Immediate Need for an Enterprise Backup Software Solution

Chris Wiedemann_65 x 85by Chris Wiedemann, Senior Analyst

COTS vendors Row of network servers in data centerthat sell continuity of operations (COOP), disaster recovery, or enterprise backup software should get in touch with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the next few days. NIST’s Infrastructure Service Division at the National Center for Neuron Research is responsible for storing and sharing large quantities of mission-critical data, and they have a pressing need for enterprise-level backup capabilities. They’re looking to replace their current backup software with a new solution that will allow them to back up a virtualization platform, physical servers, and desktops, as well as network-attached appliances (in other words, the whole nine yards).

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Spending Increases at Commerce to Drum-Up Opportunity for COTS Vendors

Christopher Wiedemann_headshot-65 x 85by Chris Wiedemann, Senior Analyst

Although Learn More About the Department of Commercethe agency often flies under the radar, the Department of Commerce (DOC) has one of the largest IT budgets in the civilian space and we’re seeing it continue to increase.  Moreover, the department is seeing dramatic annual increases in its Development, Modernization, and Enhancement (DME) budgets, which is both rare and a great sign for the COTS community. Between complete overhauls of patent and trademark systems, building out infrastructures to support the 2020 Census, and even supercomputing to support weather prediction and analytics, the mission areas and opportunities for COTS vendors are broad and deep.

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