Insight by Hughes

No excuses left to avoid switching to GSA’s EIS contracts and adopting software-defined networks

A couple of factors have come together to enable federal agencies to modernize their networks in a major way.

A couple of factors have come together to enable federal agencies to modernize their networks in a major way. One, Congress has appropriated substantial money for information technology modernization in general. And two, the General Services Administration took steps to ensure the latest networking technologies are available via its signature Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) governmentwide acquisition vehicle.

According to Tony Bardo, the assistant vice president of government solutions at Hughes Networks, this presents agencies with what they need to not merely meet next year’s deadline of having all of their telecom inventory on EIS, but also to replace legacy technology with software-defined, wide area networks, or SD-WAN.

Coupled with a variety of transport media available, Bardo said, SD-WAN will better enable agencies to carry out cloud strategies, empower tele- and remote employees, and fine-tune their public-facing digital services.

Above all, Bardo cautioned in an interview with Federal News Network, now is decidedly not the time to do that he called “like-for-like” acquisitions. That is, replacing existing contracts with EIS task orders, but acquiring the same dated technology. Specifically, he named MPLS, or multiprotocol label switching, an aging and expensive way to get packets from point A to point B, as due for replacement.

SD-WAN technology is “absolutely perfect for the digital experience, for constituents to interact with the government online,” Bardo said, “because of the various access methods that SD-WAN enables the agency to deploy.” SD-WAN, Bardo said, complements the multiple transport mechanisms – such cable, satellite, fiber, even DSL – in use at agency sites and in users’ homes.

Bardo urged agencies to release their fair market opportunities, the first step in transitioning to the EIS contractors. And he said early EIS adopting agencies that continued with MPLS should pause and see if they’re able to switch to newer technology.

“Too many fair opportunities haven’t come out the door yet, that need to, to make these deadlines that GSA has imposed,” Bardo said. He added, “My concern is that the early adopter agencies might have made those awards on a like-for-like basis. Are they still going down the MPLS path? Have they put the brakes on and said, ‘Okay, let’s, let’s have discussions with the awarded vendor?’”


Current Standing of Network Modernization in Government

The shared technologies are really where you've seen the cost drivers improve so much. It's not so much that any given agency is going to spend less … but they're going to get so much more power, so much more bandwidth, so much more path diversity…and ability to build up the network.


Remote Work and Network Modernization

Agencies need to choose an EIS service provider who's not only comfortable working in the corporate environment, but also the consumer environment, because, frankly, those two worlds have merged now. All of a sudden, your location inventory, if you will, of sites has doubled or tripled, or even more.

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