Whether the goal is improving unified communications, upgrading to converged networking, improving network command and control or ensuring support with standardization and interoperability policies, there are good reasons for federal agencies to consider using the Air Force’s NETCENTS-2 contract.

The contract is mandatory for the Air Force, but is also available for use by all DoD and federal agencies whose missions support or connect with the Air Force in some way. The contract aims to provide agencies with network-centric IT, networking, security, voice, video and data communications solutions and services that aren’t available through other mandatory-use DoD or Air Force contracts.

The ID/IQ structure lets agencies specify exactly what they need and then receive bids from the 77 contract-holders. The prices are competitive thanks to the Air Force’s collective buying power and the pricing structure, which does not charge a fee for service. According to Air Force Enterprise Services Branch Chief Robert Smothers, NETCENTS-2 consistently delivers at least a three percent savings. It always tries to meet or beat required delivery timeframes.

After fine-tuning the contract to focus on its best value to the Air Force and other agencies, NETCENTS-2 includes three categories: Application Services, Net- Centric Products and Network Operations and Infrastructure.

Application Services: This supports Air Force IT infrastructure, applications, operations or infrastructure that interacts with the Air Force. It also supports joint operations and solutions. It focuses on providing application services support to mission areas, project offices and program offices. Service areas include sustaining and developing systems, migration, integration and net-centric data services, web services, COTS software integration and smartphone/mobile apps.

Net-Centric Products: This provides a full range of technology products and support related to network operation and management. This includes networking equipment, servers, storage, peripherals, multimedia, identity management, biometric hardware and software, desktop COTS software not included on other enterprise licenses.

Network Operations and Infrastructure (NetOps): This is the only category of services fully open to other agencies with no restrictions. It provides services and solutions related to network operations, production, research and development; and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (C4ISR) mission capabilities.

The capabilities provided under the NetOps portion of the contract are particularly useful for agencies interested in advancing their networking capabilities to help them capture and analyze the massive amount of sensor data being captured through Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Traditional network infrastructures aren’t scalable enough, fast enough or agile enough to handle this variety and volume of data, which is growing by double digits year over year.

With converged networks or a fully converged infrastructure, agencies are better positioned to deal with ever-growing stores of data. This includes not only sensor data, but also e-mail, video and audio files and social media data. A survey from Beacon Technology Partners found agencies will increase their data stores by an average of 38 percent per year.

These all-IP networks can also deliver voice, data, video and other types of network services more efficiently and quickly. As a result, agencies can more easily implement technologies like video monitoring of critical infrastructure and digital government services. Finally, the modern network infrastructure simplifies network management and allows for more automated configuration and monitoring.