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CHIPS Articles: Air Force experiments with commercially provided IT services at eight bases

Air Force experiments with commercially provided IT services at eight bases
By CHIPS Magazine - March 7, 2019
In an effort to provide resilient information technology solutions, tech innovation and enterprise cloud services, the Air Force is experimenting with the network-as-a-service model. The aim is to improve user experience with an industry-provided network service, customer service and device management.

The Air Force said it reached an agreement for end user services with Unisys Corp. totaling $76.3 million, Feb. 27. “The risk reduction effort will transform a limited number of bases to a commercially provided, as-a-service approach for information technology service management, enterprise service desk, and end user device management,” the Air Force reported in a release.

The experiment is a strategic decision which allows the Air Force to concentrate its energies on its warfighting mission.

“The strategic intent is to focus on our core competency,” said William Marion, Air Force deputy chief information officer. “Our core competency is to ‘fly, fight, and win’ in air and space. It is not to run email servers or configure desktop devices.”

In selecting the bases for the experiment, the integrated program office at Hascom Air Force Base worked with the major commands and Air Force leaders to choose a diverse range of mission capabilities and geographic locations, according to the release.

For bases participating in the experiment, nearly every part of their daily interaction with the Air Force network will be affected. The experiment allows for shifting up to 20 bases to as-a-service IT models, with eight bases participating initially: Buckley AFB, Colorado; Cannon AFB, New Mexico; Maxwell AFB, Alabama; Offutt AFB, Nebraska; Hurlburt Field, Florida; Pope Field, North Carolina; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; and Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

“This agreement will deliver standardized, innovative and agile IT services to Airmen through modernization of their infrastructure with resilient IT solutions and cloud services,” said Maj. Jonathan Demers, a Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Program Executive Office program manager at Hanscom AFB. “We’ll also stabilize services by instituting industry best practices and advances in technology that you are used to at home.”

The Air Force said the EUS agreement is the second Enterprise IT-as-a-Service line of effort awarded. The first Network-as-a-Service agreement began in September 2018. Like NaaS, this agreement provides the flexibility and agility required to transform Air Force IT services and help validate the risk reduction effort currently underway, according to Demers.

The EUS experiment will begin in March 2019 and is expected to last up to three years. This experiment is expected to provide valuable information that will allow the Air Force to plan for full implementation of EITaaS to the entire Air Force.

Capt. Bryan Allebone (right), a 238th Combat Training Squadron instructor navigator and full time Air National Guard member, does mission planning with other Offutt AFB aircrew members Dec. 12, 2016, at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. A select group of bases, including Offutt AFB, will be participating in the end user services experiment to transform part of their information technology services, like cell phones and iPads, to an as-a-service approach. The experiment includes service desk functions, devices and underlying network infrastructure. U.S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford
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