The Defense Information Systems Agency now has two support and engineering contracts to tap, thanks to the recent award of a US$400 million contract to support the agency's worldwide networks.
Awarded last month to GTE Corp., the new contract also will provide the agency with an integrated network management tool for its worldwide voice, video and data networks, using software running on a Microsoft Corp. Windows NT platform, according to Pete Paulson, DISA's chief of networks.
For the past three years, Boeing Information Systems has provided the agency with a broad range of support through its Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) Support Services-Global (DSS-G) contract, but Paulson said the new contract with GTE will give the agency with "additional flexibility."
Mike Choffel, director of DISA programs with the Information Systems Division of GTE Government Systems, said the new DISN Network Management Support Services-Global/Network Engineering Contract (DNMSS-G/NEC) -- on which only GTE and its main subcontractor, Wang Global, submitted bids -- combines support work performed by the two companies under separate, long-term contracts: the worldwide Defense Switched Network (DSN) and the secured Defense Red Switched Network (DRSN) contracts held by GTE, and the Integrated Network Management System (INMS) contract held by Wang.
This is the first time management of the DSN and DRSN voice networks has been incorporated into a contract vehicle with the INMS.
"The government is going to have to only push one button to take a look at all its networks," Choffel said. The contract also encompasses in one vehicle DISA's global network of voice switches, which includes 3,500 overseas and more than 600 in the United States, Choffel said.
GTE selected a relatively new Windows NT-based INMS tool from AI Metrix, El Dorado Hills, California, as its "manager of managers," Choffel said. This tool will provide DISA with "one complete picture of all its transmission, voice, video and data. All of DISA's legacy networks will feed it, and [it will allow] managers to drill down into their networks."
Paulson said the agency believes the new AI Metrix tool will save the agency money through lower software acquisition costs as well as lower costs for PC platforms compared with the workstations required to run the older Unix INMS. "But more importantly, from an operational point of view, it makes it easier to reconfigure the network. It's easier to make changes, and it's more responsive," Paulson said. He added that the new GTE contract also provides DISA "with the opportunity to integrate voice into the INMS."
DISA also plans to export the AI Metrix software to its users, such as the commanders of unified commands, to provide them with the capability of managing their own networks.
"Some of our customers want to look at their networks, but they don't want to look at a lot of other stuff, and we can configure their [INMS] PCs so they can extract only what is of interest to them," Paulson said.
DISA plans to furnish a copy of the AI Metrix software to the Special Operations Command, Paulson said, and another candidate is the U.S. Transportation Command. DISA tested the AI Metrix INMS software in the laboratory and in the field, "and we are exceedingly happy with its performance," Paulson said.
While the Boeing DSS-G contract "is much broader" than the DNMSS-G/NEC awarded to GTE, Paulson said the agency could save money when the scope of the two contracts overlap.