Army closes in on transformation

The Army has begun a limited pilot project in the Washington, D.C., area to test key concepts of a top-level initiative

The Army has begun a limited pilot project in the Washington, D.C., area to test key concepts of a top-level initiative intended to link information systems servicewide into a single infrastructure.

As part of the Army's Enterprise Infostructure Transformation program, the service wants to standardize desktop computers and servers on a core set of software based on Microsoft Corp. Windows 2000 and Active Directory software.

Under a $1.8 million contract awarded last month by the Army Communications-Electronics Command Acquisition Center's Acquisition Center-Washington, Telos Corp. is assessing the viability of migrating Army users in the Military District of Washington. If it bears out, the contract, which could exceed $6 million, includes options for installing the software on more than 26,000 server and desktop systems, said Pat Davis, contracting officer at the acquisition center.

Active Directory is a technology that enables a systems administrator to manage systems on a network and control who can access those resources. The infostructure program is intended to reduce the cost of maintaining information systems, while improving access to information and applications servicewide.

Sandy Sieber, associate director of the acquisition center, said the Army officials will use the pilot project as a test to "feed into what they decide to do Armywide."

The Telos team includes IBM Corp., Advanced Technology Systems, NCI Information Systems Inc., Internosis and Abacus Technology Corp.

For years, the Army has had a "distributed and heterogeneous environment at the [information technology] level," said Ralph Buona, vice president of new business development at Ashburn, Va.-based Telos. The Military District of Washington "is acting as a proof of concept to the larger [enterprisewide] centralization process."

The first 90 days of work will focus on assessing the military district's "as is" architecture and determining the constraints — including everything from bandwidth problems to interoperability issues — that hinder the "to be" architecture, Buona said. Once that is complete — most likely in early June — the Army will make decisions on implementation and deployment, he said.

The pilot program will be initially performed at Fort Belvoir, Va., and upon successful completion, the Army has the option to include the other five locations that constitute the Washington military district: Fort Myer, Va.; Fort Meade, Md.; Fort Hamilton, N.Y.; Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.; and Fort AP Hill, Va., Sieber said. The team is providing technical services and support for the Army Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS), which were created earlier this year by integrating a number of Army IT organizations, including the former PEO Standard Army Management Information Systems.

Earlier this year, T. Kevin Carroll, PEO EIS leader, set up a trio of integrated process teams focused on defining requirements, architecture and the acquisition for the infostructure transformation. Those teams are not directly involved with the pilot project, but Carroll will be reviewing the results of the project, along with the work of the teams and 65 industry responses to an infostructure transformation request for information published last year, Sieber said.

When the teams were launched in January, Carroll told Federal Computer Week that "there may or may not be an acquisition out of this," adding that he was perplexed by reports that vendors were already talking about teaming up for the project. "We could use existing contracts. The Army doesn't know."

By May, Carroll said he would like to issue a draft request for information or statement of objective, "which is when we can integrate industry." The timetable is flexible, he said, and if it can be done faster, it will.

This is not the first time the Military District of Washington has been chosen to lead the Army's IT transformation. Last August, the service began to consolidate the IT systems operated by the district's six installations in hopes that regional management of the district's IT infrastructure would guide the Army's enterprise changes.

The Washington district is "small enough we can get a handle on it" and will "allow us to do some testing and help us frame the larger enterprise issue," Miriam Browning, the Army's principal director of enterprise integration, told FCW at the time.Driving change

Under the contract for the Army Enterprise Infostructure Transformation pilot project, the team led by Telos Corp. will be responsible for:

n Systems engineering and technical support services required for the on-site assessment, design and implementation of Microsoft Corp. Windows 2000/Active Directory and Microsoft Exchange 2000.

* Designing the new environment.

* Identifying technology needed to support that environment.

* Setting up the environment.

* Training users.

* Consolidating file, print, Web and e-mail servers.

* Setting up a storage-area network solution.

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