Research Report

ITES Contracts Cater to Demand for Leading-edge IT

Besides helping the Army meet and maintain its IT requirements, the ITES contracts will also be at the center of the Army’s push into leading edge technologies. These technologies and the capabilities they provide will help drive the evolution of the net-centric strategies that will shape the Army’s warfighting capabilities over the next three decades.

Army Chief of Staff. Gen. Mark Milley told a recent industry meeting that what you see now in the Army is more or less what you’ll see through 2020, in terms of readiness. From 2025 and beyond, however, new and emerging technologies could “deeply change the character of war.”

In a March 2016 report entitled “Shaping the Army Network: 2025-2040,” Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell, Army Chief Information Officer/G-6, says the battlefield and the Army of 2025-2040 will be shaped “by so-called leap forward technologies.” These will modernize the network and help the Army maintain a technological edge. The network capabilities and technologies required to meet the operational requirements of 2040 are grouped into what he calls focus areas:

  • dynamic transport
  • computing and edge sensors
  • data to decisive action
  • human cognitive enhancement
  • robotics and autonomous operations
  • cybersecurity and resiliency

ITES-3S task areas include many of those services needed to maintain and improve current network services. They also focus on some of these future areas of concern, particularly cybersecurity and information systems security.

Cyber operations, network defense and offense, continuous monitoring and mobile security are just some of the services mentioned, for example. Along with that go such things as computer security awareness, incident response, and information, system, data and physical security. Information assurance services—the necessary cousin to cybersecurity—include such things as biometrics, remote monitoring and intrusion detection, public key infrastructure and CAC authentication.

The new areas of focus for the Army IT Enterprise are even more obvious in the types of technologies offered as a part of the recently awarded ITES-3H. That aims to provide servers, workstations, laptops, networking equipment and other IT products to Army buyers, along with the services needed to configure and integrate them.

What’s different between ITES-2H and the new contract is that it’s all about providing for the current need for hyper-converged systems—a blending of computers, network servers and storage into a single solution set, instead of individual products. “The biggest difference is probably the security aspect, which ITES-3H requires in all of its offerings, and that was not there in ITES-2H,” says John Meier, Iron Bow’s general manager for DOD East & Intel sales team.

Add to that such factors as energy ratings and similar kinds of compliance issues the product solutions have to meet, which were discussed for ITES-2H but are now mature offerings in ITES-3H. “There’s a vast array of technologies that can be provided through ITES-3H that probably weren’t available for ITES-2H,” he says.

Both ITES-3S and ITES-3H will have to show broad flexibility to keep up with technology demands. Some of the initiatives the Army and other defense agencies are just now planning for will be satisfied by those contract vehicles. Most agencies are just now trying to come to grips with what kind of cloud model they will go with, for example, and both contracts will need to support the final decision.

“The pace of innovation in information technology is increasing the pace of operations, and our adversaries’ ability to influence our operating environment,” says Ferrell. “The Army’s success in 2040 will spend on retaining overmatch in both security and capability to provide freedom of action within the cyber domain, while denying it to our adversaries.”

The ITES programs will be critical in providing the IT services and products needed to underpin at least the early days of those efforts.