Brace Yourselves, Feds: NS2020 is Coming

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Network Services 2020 includes traditional networking and telecommunications technologies as well as a larger inventory of emerging technologies.

Like winter in the television show, “Game of Thrones,” the contract vehicle known as Network Services 2020 is coming and it’s going to be epic in both size and scope.

NS2020 is anchored by the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract that’ll have a life cycle of 15 years, replacing the Networx vehicle most of the government has used to purchase network and telecom solutions over the past decade.

Overall, NS2020 includes those traditional networking and telecommunications technologies as well as a larger inventory of emerging technologies.

A glimpse of the draft request for proposals – and it’s not light reading, either, at several hundred pages – reveals it will include data and voice services, cloud computing, contact center and co-located data center services, wireless, commercial satellite communications and managed services like video conferencing.

One of the General Services Administration’s primary goals over the past two years in developing the NS2020 strategy has been easing the procurement process for agencies when to comes to some of these emerging technologies.

Physical data centers and legacy hardware may always have a place in government, but they’re no longer in vogue. Driven by changing missions, tightened budgets and innovative people within, agencies are moving to cloud and mobile services in droves. EIS aims to be almost a one-stop shop for these kinds of services, and that should reduce the total number of procurements agencies make.

One of the key challenges, though, is going to be the transition. At a recent industry day, Network Services Transition Director Debbie Hren noted that fair opportunity decisions took more than two years during the Networx transition nearly a decade ago. Imagine yourself at an agency that desperately needs particular networking services and being forced to wait two years before you can get them. Not only is that an incredibly long time to wait; what you’re getting might not even be current given Moore’s Law.

“We can’t do that again,” she told the audience.

GSA has developed a template transition strategy that it is beginning to share with agencies and recommended that government agencies get a strategy together now. The old Networx contract was recently extended three years from a 2017 to 2020 sunset, which gives government additional time to transition without going cold turkey.

In addition, the GSA schedule offers a slew of emerging technologies – broadband and cloud computing, for example – that are available today. Those options can be attractive given the favored “staggered” approach to transitioning that GSA recommends.

On June 10, three of GSA’s foremost experts on the NS2020 strategy will join Nextgov for a conversation on agency migration strategies. Get registered and get in on the conversation.

Unlike winter in “Game of Thrones,” NS2020 will only be a bad thing for agencies if they aren’t ready to take advantage of it.

(Image via NPFire/a>/ Shutterstock.com)

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