Logging on | Get it while you can

In a shout-out to the Artist Once Again Known as Prince (and since we're feeling musical, a nod to Janis Joplin in the headline) agencies have less than three more years to party like it's 1999. That was the year the General Services Administration awarded its IT services-heavy Millennia contract, which is due to expire April 2009. If hearty partying isn't your bag, you can enjoy a cool glass of Millennia Lite, the contract for smaller IT projects, until 2010. Both will eventually be replaced when GSA's Alliant contracts hit the street next year.

Why party at all? Because according to observers, Millennia and Millennia Lite have turned into just what the doctor ordered for modern IT projects'a mix of infrastructure and services that effectively meets the requirements of sprawling, complex systems. In the overall scheme of things, IT has become less about technologies and more about services. Hey, Homeland Security! Want a secure data network? Good luck buying it off a schedule. But a Millennia contract-holder can help you build it.

Or as John Murphy, technologies director of the FirstGov Web portal, recently told GCN contributing writer Caron Golden, 'What we run is a very complex portal. It requires a significant amount of technology infrastructure and services to make it work properly. ... Millennia has the services we need.'

In this, the final 2006 edition of the GCN Technology Acquisition Guide, Golden catches up with vendors, customers and GSA officials who have participated in Millennia and Millennia Lite, even as the two contracts begin to wind down. Both have weathered controversies at GSA. And despite what GSA says today, both face competition from agency-specific vehicles, such as the Homeland Security Department's Eagle and the Army's Total Engineering and Integration Services 2 contracts.

But lessons learned over the lifetime of Millennia could bode well for its replacement. Experts say Millennia's support for cost-plus contracting has been a lure. Moreover, Alliant will be flexible enough to accommodate new providers when companies merge or go away. And GSA officials promise they'll wipe out the so-called functional areas of Millennia Lite that turned it into 'a bureaucratic nightmare.'
Sounds promising. Read Golden's story to learn more.

Of course, none of this is to say products mean nothing. Technology isn't a commodity. For instance, network appliances of all stripes line the shelves of government resellers. These handy drop-in boxes can quickly add new functionality to an agency's network. But which ones match your needs? Contributing writer John McCormick sorts through the options.

In addition, application servers, those platforms that mediate between the information you have and the services you present to workers and citizens, are becoming increasingly important (and, as you might suspect, open source). Sifting through application server offerings will help determine how your agency builds around e-government initiatives. Contributing writer S. Michael Gallagher has the scoop.

And in this, the last TAG (as we at GCN affectionately call these special editions) of the year, check out the GCN Insider for news on expert systems and high-speed firewalls. Missed the GCN Lab's review of enterprise vulnerability management suites? The Reviewer's Choice winners appear on the back page.

Thanks again for checking in this year with the new, improved GCN Technology Acquisition Guides. We now return you to your regularly scheduled party.


Brad Grimes is GCN's chief technology editor.

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