ITES-3H: More than Just Hardware

When the ITES-2H request for proposals were initially released in 2006, the contract was seen as a way for the Army to buy commercial-off-the-shelf hardware. That meant everything from workstations and servers to printers and networking. Buying this equipment in bulk would leverage the Army’s buying power to get the best price.

That’s still the aim, but ITES-3H encompasses much more than just hardware. As the DOD has switched its emphasis to buying IT for the enterprise, the Army’s use of ITES-3H has likewise switched from considering specific equipment to realizing how that technology fits into the end-to-end enterprise vision.

In a presentation at the recent Federal Networks Conference, Gary Wang, the Army’s deputy CIO/G-6, outlines that new enterprise view. It focuses on how you move data across the enterprise, including how to extend data services from terrestrial-based networks in the U.S. to tactical units in the battlefield.

“When I first started selling to the Army, we were selling a lot to every installation and base individually,” says John Meier, Iron Bow’s general manager for DOD East & Intel sales team. “Now you rarely do that, instead you’re selling to a major command that’s looking at how it all applies to the enterprise.”

In the “old” days, you first looked at networks. Then you looked at servers. Then you looked at storage; all as individual IT areas. Now, he says, all that is collapsing into “consolidated and automated infrastructures.” These require ITES-3H to be more of a solutions provider that can integrate technology into those infrastructures, instead of just providing the hardware itself.

In his presentation, Wang checked off a list of developing technologies that will extend the Army Enterprise, including hybrid clouds, unified communications capabilities and mobile, along with the cybersecurity needed to secure it all. ITES-3H will have to provide the technology and integration solutions to match those needs.

The ITES-3H Statement of Work lays out the breadth of expectations for vendors selling through the contract. The acquisition “stresses a well-rounded, total solution that uses standard interfaces that can be interconnected in unlimited configurations to satisfy multiple user requirements,” it states.

Companies selling through the contract must provide hardware that’s compatible with the Army’s net-centric operations, and must be able to update and enhance their products so they can keep up with the evolving requirements of the DOD’s Global Information Grid. This includes assets in early deployment such as the Joint Information Environment, and networking standards such as IPv6.

Look more closely at what’s driving that future enterprise vision, Meier says, and it’s technologies like software defined networking, software defined data centers, converged infrastructure and the like. These technologies represent “huge” savings for Iron Bow’s Army customers.

“So, ITES-3H will be asked to provide the products and solutions to support the advance of that kind of technology,” he says. “It’s not just about the hardware.”