Migration to IP can begin
Networx opens door to converged comm
- By Jason Miller
- Apr 14, 2007
"We will want them to' take us from buying routers and circuits to buying pure IP services." ' Ed Meagher, INTERIOR
Henrik G. de Gyor
The government has officially and fully joined the private sector in migrating to an IP network for converged communications.
With the General Services Administration's award of the multibillion-dollar Networx telecommunications contract, agencies will have a third more options when buying voice, video or data services than they had under FTS-2001.
And many agencies' planned uses will be as diverse as Networx's services.
Although agency information technology officials readily admit there are no 'wow' or cutting-edge technologies on the surface of the contract, Networx, which has a $48.1 billion ceiling, will give agencies the opportunity to tap into functions previously not available under a single governmentwide acquisition contract.
'It is the management of our backbone that seems to be more beneficial than any technology on the contract,' said Ed Meagher, the Interior Department's deputy chief information officer. 'Networx offers the ability to rethink how you incorporate the technology, who does the integration and how you control it.'
GSA awarded the first Networx deal, known as Universal, recently to AT&T, Qwest Government Services and MCI Communications Services, doing business as Verizon Business Services.
Sprint Nextel did not win a place on the vehicle and decided not to protest, company officials said. Sprint has high hopes for Networx part two, known as Enterprise, which includes functional areas for wireless and localized services, in addition to voice-over-IP, antivirus management and managed firewall services.
GSA officials say they plan to award Enterprise in May.
Networx Universal will replace FTS 2001 as the primary contract vehicle for telecom and network services.
Under Universal, the three vendors will offer services similar to FTS 2001 and add more than 20 new ones that emphasize the future of IP-based networks. These newer services include voice, IP, wireless, satellite and optical connectivity services, as well as such IP-centric application services such as hosting, content management and teleworking.
And those IP possibilities are what attracts Meagher and other agency IT managers to the contract.
'Networx forms the core of our OneNet program that will bring together our many networks across DHS,' said Scott Charbo, the Homeland Security Department's CIO. 'EAGLE and First Source [DHS' enterprise IT contracts] complement Networx by providing edge services down to our desktops and handheld devices.'
Charbo previously said Networx would help DHS finish consolidating six wide-area networks and move the agency to a managed-services environment.
Meagher has similar hopes for Interior, which initially will consolidate its telecoms around one vendor and then ask that vendor to move the agency to a purely IP network, he said.
'We will want them to take their circuits back and essentially take us from buying routers and circuits to buying pure IP services,' Meagher said. 'It is our mission to do various things, and we need IP services to get there.'
Robert Suda, Agriculture Department associate CIO for integration and operations, said the agency likely will wait until GSA awards the Enterprise contract to make any long-term decisions. But the office is initially looking for mostly VOIP and wireless services from Networx.
'We still are going through an internal analysis and establishing standards for VOIP,' Suda said. 'We are trying to make the workforce more mobile, especially agency employees who are out in'public every day.'
Suda said USDA has some wireless services under the FTS 2001 contract, but he hopes Networx will be cheaper. He added that USDA may award its first task order under Networx by late December or early January.