Connections II Delivers Infrastructure Support for Emerging Telecom Technologies
Connections II will connect people from virtually anywhere
The Connections II contract provides agencies with access to new telecommunications infrastructure solutions in areas such as security and sustainability, while also providing agencies with capabilities to better manage and exploit wireless, telepresence, and other maturing technologies.
The campus-level telecommunications needs of agencies have changed significantly since the first Connections contract was awarded eight years ago. Consequently, Connections II has been structured to deliver solutions that can address agencies’ new requirements. “Everybody wants to be connected to whatever device they choose—all the time and everywhere,” said Frank Tiller, Acting Director of the Office of Network Services in GSA’s Office of Integrated Technology Services (ITS).
Tiller sees a greater focus among agencies on obtaining higher bandwidth, wireless services, and virtual applications using network connections that carry video and other media-rich applications. “The infrastructure that supports all of that is much more complex,” Tiller said. “Government agencies will often need help figuring out their overall network architecture and how to put their entire infrastructure together to effectively deliver these new services.”
GSA and industry officials said the new Connections II contract would play an important role helping agencies in these key areas:
• Managing the telecommunications infrastructure of multiple buildings within a Local or Enterprise Wide Area Network. Connections II can help customers address multiple requirements in a single vehicle. For example, HP Enterprise Services helped the Department of State consolidate the management of its voice, data, and other services on an enterprise network across a large campus environment spanning more than 40 buildings in the Washington metropolitan area. Other agencies are looking for Connections II to help them implement similar consolidations of campus buildings, officials said.
• Telepresence solutions. Improvements in the quality of telepresence and video-conferencing are driving up the demand for these solutions, particularly as travel costs rise. “Telepresence makes a good case for cost-effective face-to-face meetings,” said Jeff Mohan, AT&T’s Government Solution's Executive Director for GSA Programs. This includes gathering people together after a disaster or un-planned event, as well as for regular staff meetings. “We’re seeing a lot of organizations take advantage of telepresence in lieu of putting people on airplanes,” Mohan said.
• Supply Chain Risk Management. Connections II is designed to help agencies adopt supply chain risk management solutions that meet National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards for tracking and tracing equipment to guard against using items that have been counterfeited or tampered with. “GSA has emerged as one of the groups that is proactive in addressing supply chain risk management in its contracting vehicles,” said Kevin Youel Page, Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the ITS.
• Sustainability. Connections II is aimed at helping agencies meet their environmental goals and compliance requirements, including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) compliance and the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) standards. “We asked all of our Connections vendors for sustainability plans to help agencies be more energy efficient and better environmental stewards by reducing waste and toxic materials,” said Connections II Program Manager Debbie Clark.
• Managing a Wireless Infrastructure. The demand for mobility and wireless voice and data grows constantly. Although Connections II is not a wireless contract, it provides solutions for designing, updating, and managing a wireless infrastructure, and integrating it with existing wired connections.
• Managing a Converged Voice, Video, and Data Infrastructure. Many agencies that currently manage these capabilities separately are looking for solutions that will enable them to manage these capabilities more efficiently in a single network. “If you have a problem with video, you want someone who can determine if it’s the network, video equipment, or perhaps the user,” said Susan Zeleniak, Group President of Verizon Federal.
• Transitioning to IPv6, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Cloud Computing, or Carrier-based Ethernet. As agencies adopt these and other emerging technologies, Connections II can help them put in place the infrastructure required for the transition at the campus level, including help managing the transition, coordinating with other contracts, and ensuring network access.
Obtaining enough bandwidth for telepresence, cloud computing, and other emerging telecommunications technologies could be a challenge for many agencies. Consequently, Connections II will play an important role in helping agencies address their bandwidth and latency issues within the campus infrastructure.
“The technologies and management tools for utilizing the available bandwidth are within the scope of Connections II,” said Don Small, President of Government Telecommunications Inc. “We can take the bandwidth you have and properly allocate it to get the most bang for the buck.”