OTAs and Cloud: Hot Topics at AFCEA WEST

By Mark Wisinger, Senior Analyst

AFCEA West is the most happening event on the Navy IT circuit. The sunny San Diego weather draws a big crowd every February and it’s an excellent place to talk shop, learn about the latest Navy and Marine Corps trends and opportunities and soak up the California sun – despite the rain this year!

Here are a couple top-level trends I noticed during the conference:

OTAs are red hot
It seems not a month goes by without new OTA’s popping up. While the Navy did not announce a new other-transactional-authority vehicle, it did announce that within the next week or two, we’d see requests for cloud and networking through the Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP) OTA. We’re seeing the Navy continue to ramp up OTA usage and grow more comfortable with the OTA acquisition process.

NAVAIR appears to be the most popular Navy cloud broker
Each Navy systems command is in varying stages of maturing their cloud-broker offering for the rest of the department. But, it appears that NAVAIR’s AWS GovCloud environment is the most popular choice right now. The Navy cloud broker model is rather interesting, given the JEDI competition and DOD CIO Dana Deasy’s mandate to consolidate as much of DOD cloud purchasing through the JEDI cloud vehicle as possible. Read more of this post

Huge New DHS RFI Presents Opportunity for Technology Vendors

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security released a huge RFI for Information Technology (IT) Compute and Storage Modernization, Cloud Migration, and Data Center Optimization that needs to be on your radar. At $6.8 billion, DHS has the largest IT portfolio in the civilian government, so the funding available for a project of this magnitude at the department is likely to be significant, which means there may be extensive opportunity for technology vendors.

It’s also important to note that only 26 percent of DHS applications have thus far migrated to the cloud or are in the process – so there’s still a lot of work left to do.

Here are some of the key technologies DHS is pursuing in this new RFI:

  • Embracing automation, DevOpsSec, and optimized resource utilization – to improve efficiency and agility to minimize data center and other infrastructure footprints
  • Moving to cloud-native shared services – to modernize applications and adopting a vendor agnostic multi-cloud approach to spur innovation
  • Making increased use of data analytics technologies – to improve cybersecurity and decision making

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Technology Is Essential for Achieving State Priorities

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

It’s that time of the year, when governors make proclamations about budget priorities for the upcoming year. These speeches provide insight into areas where state agencies will be spending their money. These speeches rarely spell out overt technology priorities, but this year’s priorities of developing the workforce, improving physical infrastructure, increasing education funding and security — and not raising taxes cry out for technology.

Workforce Development
Many governors have spoken about increasing efforts to develop a more robust workforce. The discussion usually centers around training, especially technical training. Training today relies heavily on technology for its delivery of the curriculum and the subject material itself features a heavy dose of technology as well. In Massachusetts, for example, Governor Baker is advocating for training on advanced manufacturing, robotics and smart materials.

In California, the new governor stated a need for a comprehensive statewide strategy to uplift and upskill workers “to ensure technological advancements in AI, blockchain, big data…” State departments of labor and industry throughout the country will be looking for technology that will help match individuals to appropriate training programs, deliver education materials and track their progress.

Public Infrastructure
Another common theme is improving roadway infrastructure. Michigan struggles with an abundance of crumbling roads and bridges. In addition to repairing a multitude of unsafe roads and bridges, traffic congestion was also a problem cited by many other states, not just Michigan. State budgets do not have adequate funding to address this problem. With the help of public-private partnerships (P3s), though, many states are investigating new technology to help address infrastructure challenges, including traffic congestion. Read more of this post

AI in DOD: Three Places to Get Started

Stephanie Meloni

By Stephanie Meloni, Market Intelligence Manager

The Department of Defense is considering artificial intelligence for everything from improved maintenance and repair of weapons systems to supply chain management and improving business processes. Industry can expect to see exponential growth once implementation takes off.

Consider Project Maven, for example. The DOD’s AI solution for analyzing imagery for intel purposes, has seen funding grow from $16 million in fiscal 2018 to $93 million in fiscal 2019 — a 480 percent increase!

Central to DOD’s AI implementation efforts is the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. JAIC was created quickly to ensure that DOD effectively and ethically builds out its AI capabilities. The organization will look at AI cross-domain solutions across the service branches, as well as specific component projects.

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The Evolution of Cloud on GSA Schedule 70

By Adam Hyman, Director, Government Programs

As the government continues its initiative to modernize and transform IT across its ever-expanding network, cloud technology has been, and will continue to be, critical in achieving government missions.

While the government’s demand for cloud technology has grown, the largest IT government contract, GSA Schedule 70, has been slow to adapt. As a result, vendors have had to scatter cloud offerings under existing SINs, including 132-32 (Term Software Licenses) and 132-52 (Electronic Commerce), none of which are ideal because their terms did not align with how cloud is sold.

In 2015, GSA acknowledged the void and introduced SIN 132-40 (Purchase of Cloud Computing Services) to GSA Schedule 70 contracts. However, under this SIN, only the three NIST service models (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) are in scope, while any supporting hardware, software, and services are out of scope and need to be added on other GSA Schedule 70 SINs.

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AI, Machine Learning, Automation: Key Themes for Fed Healthcare

Chris Wiedemann

By Chris Wiedemann, Consultant

At the recent AFCEA Bethesda Health IT Summit, government and industry had a chance to catch each other up on the latest developments in a rapidly-evolving space. As usual, the event was information rich, covering everything from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s agile development-driven programs to address the opioid crisis to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ internal enterprise cloud strategy.

But the underlying theme was that the agencies engaged in big healthcare challenges (VA, Health and Human Services, Defense Health Agency, etc.) are starting to work faster and smarter by using tools like agile development and purchasing, artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning, and they need industry partners who can do that with them.

Of course, any mention of agility, automation, machine learning or artificial intelligence should excite COTS manufacturers. Although the government speakers mostly avoided calling out products by name, the role of off-the-shelf technology was a common thread throughout the event. There are a variety of drivers behind the move to COTS and away from customization, ranging from the availability of sophisticated data analytics tools to the need to hedge against institutional knowledge loss as more of the federal workforce approaches retirement.

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Government Needs to Shore Up Security Readiness – Before the Next Shutdown

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

Whether it’s through government shutdowns or cyber threats, the possibility of government having to unexpectedly operate at reduced capacity is greater than ever. While it appears that the recent partial shutdown had minimal impact on security readiness, we should count ourselves lucky instead of expecting such an outcome to be the norm.

With the resumption of full government operations, all agencies, not just those affected, should take stock and partner with industry to shore up their posture in two areas, risk management and AI.

Risk Management

Government agency risk management strategies have traditionally emphasized the threat landscape and vulnerability of attack surfaces. Expect agencies to take a hard look at their risk posture to determine whether they’ve adequately factored in the impact of government shutdowns. This is an area where industry can play a role – helping agencies adjust their security readiness in an environment where reduced operations may become more of a norm.

Work with your government customer or prospect to ensure that proper backup and recovery capabilities are in place, that their systems and networks have the right kind of resiliency and segmentation solutions in place, and that the security personnel are equipped with the right tools to “put out fires” when workforce and capacity levels are compromised.

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