DISA seeks to better video services

The Defense Information Systems Agency is looking to boost its ability to use video technologies six years after it awarded the first Defense Information Systems Network contract to AT&T Government Solutions.

DISA earlier this month issued a request for information asking vendors to provide insight about the availability of technology or products that will help the armed services meet the growing need for video, audio and Web-based conferencing services.

The DISN video services program management office is looking at ways to improve the next DISN video services contract.

In 1997, DISA awarded the eight-year, $125 million contract to AT&T Government Solutions, then called AT&T Government Markets, to provide Defense Department users with the ability to hook everything from desktop videoconferencing systems to full studios into a seamless and interoperable network. The DISN Video Services (DVS) contract won't expire for another two years, but DISA officials have said they want to get a sense of the best technology out there as the agency prepares for future projects.

To date, the DVS contract has provided an important link among members of the armed forces in disparate locations, allowing them to talk, share data and collaborate, to some degree, on specific tasks.

DVS served its purpose in its time. DISA has kept pace with technological advances by modifying the DVS contract. It is now time for a more wholesale revamp of the contract, DISA officials said.

"DISA is probably looking for improved collaborative capabilities," said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting, a Pennsylvania-based firm specializing in information technology. "There have been tremendous increases in demand for services that merge the traditional talking head with the ability to share documents, files and information."

"We have taken the best technology and processes to create" the DVS contract, said Paul McQuillan, a vice president for defense sales at AT&T Government Solutions. "It took a lot of development to get the systems to talk to each other, and we wanted the system to be global from the start." However, advances in technology will add "tremendous capabilities" to the system over the next several years, he said. n

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DVS-II

The Defense Information Systems Agency wants to find the latest and greatest teleconferencing technologies in the private sector and bring them into the next Defense Information Systems Network Video Services contract, DVS-II. Some ideas DISA officials have in mind:

* A technological infrastructure upgrade.

* An integrated and automated operation/management network.

* A more comprehensive network management capability.

* Collaborative conferencing capabilities provided by the International Telecommunication Union.

* Video-over-IP services.

* On-demand conferencing capabilities.

* A Web-based reservation and scheduling system.

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