GSA analysis shows data storage purchases increasing

Call center, data storage and network restoration services are among the fastest movers under GSA’s Networx contract vehicle.

Mary Davie 2014

Mary Davie of GSA's Federal Acquisition Service says the Networx telecom contracts are saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

Federal users are lining up for call center, data storage and network restoration services provided through the General Services Administration’s Networx multiple award telecommunications services contracts, according to the agency’s latest numbers crunch.

Those services are among the fastest movers under the Networx contract vehicle, according to Mary Davie, assistant commissioner, GSA Federal Acquisition Service Office of Integrated Technology Services.

In a June 10 blog post, Davie said the agency recently completed analyzing the contracts' purchasing data for the first half of fiscal year 2014. The "big data" details from the Networx program give a good picture of the federal networking and telecommunications market, she said.

Networx is made up of two multiple award contracting vehicles: the larger, full-service-oriented Networx Universal and the smaller Networx Enterprise contract focused on special access services.

The Networx program, she said, collects data about what federal agencies are purchasing and how much they are paying for networking and telecommunications.

At least 136 federal agencies now use the Networx program, according to Davie, and those agencies have purchased $762 million in network and telecommunications services through the contracts in the second quarter of fiscal 2014, a 12.8 percent year-over-year increase from 2013’s $630 million, after accounting for fiscal 2013 purchases through now-expired legacy contracts.

Davie said the program is saving money overall. In the first two quarters of fiscal 2014, she claimed savings of $332 million, slightly more than the $328 million GSA originally anticipated.

Davie attributed the higher agency usage of Networx to increasing bandwidth demand, driven by video and data transmission needs. She added that the two largest in-demand Networx core services are Internet Protocol Based Virtual Private Network and Managed Network Services. Government agencies have increased purchases of those two services by 24 percent and 36 percent, respectively, in fiscal 2014, she said.

At the same time, traditional telecom services that support federal agency legacy applications continue to fade away.

Long distance voice services, Davie said, are down 5 percent from fiscal 2013, while legacy networks based on asynchronous transfer mode and frame relay protocols have largely disappeared. ATM service purchases are down 8 percent, while frame relay services declined 31 percent since last year, she said and both now account for less than 1 percent of federal purchases.

Purchases of storage services (network attached storage, storage area networks, and backup and restoration services) through the program continue to grow. Storage services are a small part of overall Networx use, according to Davie, but GSA considers the increases a bellwether for enhancement of traditional bandwidth with cloud services.

In an email to FCW on June 12, Davie said the current Networx data show that IP-based networks, data center services -- such as storage and mobility -- will play a big role in the agency’s next major telecommunications contract, NS2020, now being developed.

Big data analysis, she said, will provide a dual role under the NS2020 contract.

First, it will allow GSA to see purchase trends by service, giving a heads-up on what agencies need, or don’t need, she said.

"Second, a large part of our NS2020 efforts revolve not only around the development of the acquisitions, like the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions, but around the business and operational support systems that make the acquisitions easier to use and manage," she said. "The need for data, and the subsequent analysis of the data, has a big role in the development of these systems."

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