UPDATED: DISA awards first NCES collaboration contract to IBM

Editor's note: This story was updated at 11 a.m. July 14, 2006, to correct that IBM will host applications for Defense Department users connected to the Defense Information Systems Agency Non-secure IP Router Network at a secure facility managed by ServerVault, not Secure Vault.

The Defense Information Systems Agency awarded the first of two Net-Centric Enterprise Services (NCES) collaboration services contracts to IBM in a $17 million deal that calls for the company to provide instant messaging, low-bandwidth text chat and Web conferencing to Defense Department users.

DISA said it intends to award a second collaboration services contract, but an agency spokesman could not immediately provide a date for that award. Lt. Gen. Charles Croom, DISA’s director, told Federal Computer Week in October 2005 that he would like to offer at least two collaboration choices to all DOD users, which he believes will foster competition among NCES vendors.

Croom said at an agency industry day conference in March that NCES is core to DISA’s mission of delivering information to warfighters. NCES tools will also play an important role in the Net-Enabled Command Capability, the next-generation, departmentwide command and control system, Air Force Brig. Gen. David Warner, NECC director, said at the conference.

Linda Marshall, director for defense agencies at IBM Global Services, said the company views the NCES contract as an incredibly foundational capability for DISA and other DOD users.

IBM will provide collaboration tools to the department from its Lotus Sametime software suite, which includes instant messaging; Web conferencing; white board tools; application sharing; broadcasting; chat; and audio and video capabilities, Marshall said.

A range of back-end software supports those tools and capabilities. For example, the IBM WebSphere portal and application server, the IBM DB 2 database, and the Tivoli federated identity and access manager will help provide those services, she said.

DOD users will be able to find those services via a Web portal, Marshall said. IBM will host applications for DOD users connected to the DISA Non-secure IP Router Network at a secure facility managed by ServerVault.

DISA facilities will host applications for users on the Secret IP Router Network, and IBM will support networks with higher classifications within secure enclaves, Marshall said.

IBM will provide server hardware to support the NCES applications and will increase capacity as DISA adds users, she added.

The agency is preparing contracts for NCES search services and a service-oriented architecture. It selected Army Knowledge Online to be the NCES Web portal in October 2005.

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