DOD-wide database pact imminent

The Defense Department plans to award the first in a series of departmentwide licensing agreements for database management systems as early as this week. Under the arrangement, Oracle Corp. will provide its software at volume discount pricing that is unavailable through existing contracts.

The Pentagon selected the Army Small Computer Program, Fort Monmouth, N.J., to manage the Database Enterprise Licensing Agreements. The agreement with Oracle is imminent, according to Dee Wardle, the Army's SCP program leader, and the SCP office has come close to concluding a similar deal with Informix Software Inc.

"We're close to signing the Oracle agreement," Wardle said in an interview last week at the semi-annual SCP-sponsored Army Information Technology Conference. "We're very close...and we're going to get very good prices."

Industry sources indicated that they also expect Sybase Inc. to win a contract.

The pending DOD-wide blanket purchase agreements, based on the General Services Administration schedule, stem from an initiative kicked off by DOD deputy chief information officer Marv Langston last fall to reduce the amount of money that the department spends on all types of popular software.

Rather than having a myriad of contract vehicles managed by contracting organizations throughout the four military services, DOD aims to wield its collective clout as one of the world's single largest information technology customers to negotiate low-cost deals.

Larry Fawkes, program manager at Oracle Federal Systems, confirmed that talks on the BPAs are ongoing. "We are working diligently with [the Army] on getting a BPA in place," Fawkes said.

The deal, which will include incentives for combined or consolidated purchases, will help DOD get a better handle on where it is spending money, Fawkes said.

Dick Martin, federal sales manager for Informix Software Inc., confirmed that the company is in negotiations with SCP and said the parties are close to reaching a conclusion.

Sybase officials were unavailable for comment.

The Army did not include Microsoft Corp. and its database product in the original set of enterprise agreements. This exclusion has resulted in a crash effort by the Microsoft federal marketing arm to have its SQL Server 7.0 software included, according to industry sources.

So far, program officials said, the Army does not have any inclination to add Microsoft SQL to its DOD-wide database product line.

"We're surprised that we were not included on the list" of database software vendors that the Army has selected for DOD-wide agreements, said Mary Ellen O'Brien, director of DOD sales for Microsoft Federal. "We have an enterprise-class product with SQL 7." Microsoft intends to work with DOD to have its product included in the list of agreements, she said.

The Air Force already has in place its own servicewide agreement with Oracle through the Integrated Computer-Aided Software Engineering (I-CASE) contract held by Logicon Inc.

Lt. Col. Glenn Taylor, program manager for that contract at the Standard Systems Group in Montgomery, Ala., said the Air Force has "over 100,000 concurrent licenses with Oracle" under that agreement, with three or more people sharing a license. "This covers 300,000 to 400,000 users," he said.

The Army was not clear on how those Air Force users and licenses would fit into the DOD-wide agreement under negotiation. But industry sources at last week's Army conference speculated that those licenses would be bundled into the overall DOD agreement, providing all military database customers with an immediate price break as a result of the economies of scale built into the DOD-wide agreement.

-- Margret Johnston contributed to this article.

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