Enterprise IT-as-a-Service: Five Big Questions

 

Air Force IT leaders are quietly putting together a strategy to take the as-a-Service approach to IT to its logical conclusion. But they have some questions that they need answered first.

According to defense officials, the goal of the Enterprise IT-as-a-Service program is to shift the burden of providing IT at military bases to commercial providers who can do it more efficiently and upgrade more agilely than traditional defense procurement. But in a recent RFI, the Air Force invited industry to weigh in on more than a dozen questions. Here are five big ones that often arise with outsourcing/as-a-Service initiatives:

  1. Ownership. Who should own Base/Post/Camp/Station IT infrastructure – the government or the service provider(s)? 
  2. Transition plans. What are your hardware/infrastructure/IT services transition planning strategies, should a long-term contract terminate for cause? What are some of the pros/cons in the transition handoff? 
  3. Pricing. Do you object to using industry best practice pricing models, for instance per user per month for service desk and desktop services, per physical or virtual server for data center, per GB for storage, etc.)? Do you have any alternate recommend a pricing models?
  4. Costs and risks. What advice can you provide the USAF in designing the EITaaS acquisition strategy to maximize performance of the services required and enhance user experience/warfighter needs at a reasonable cost and with limited risk to the AF?” 
  5. Government as integrator? Do you recommend a single integrator? Why? Should that integrator be government or industry? Explain why.

These questions should sound familiar. We heard them in the 1990s, when the Navy outsourced the management of its desktop environment through the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) program, and again in the early 2000s, when the newly-created Transportation Security Administration awarded a massive contract for IT Managed Services. 

The concept of managed services is more widely accepted in government these days. And yet managed services done at scale remains relatively rare—largely because agencies are still looking for answers to those five questions. 

So all eyes—in both government and industry—are on the Air Force. If they can arrive at a workable approach, the EITaaS model might gain steam.

John Monroe
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