- The U.S. Air Force awarded Dell EMC and its industry partners, General Dynamics and Microsoft, a $1 billion contract to overhaul the agency's approach to IT, according to a Wednesday announcement.
- The five-year deal will revamp Air Force systems for the modern era, creating an "Enterprise as a Service" program to modernize communications and collaboration across the 776,00 users of the Air Force, the Defense Logistics Agency and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
- The deal will provide information, communications, email, collaboration services, office productivity and records management tools, according to the announcement. Dell EMC's consulting branch will migrate current communications and collaboration systems. The firm will also audit the Air Force's current technology stack to determine whether its applications are ready for the cloud or require migration or retirement.
Much like businesses in the private sector, federal agencies have to undergo transformations for the modern era, but such IT migrations are on a far larger scale than what is often seen in the private sector. The Air Force has to migrate more than three-quarters of a million users onto cloud applications, a daunting task considering the time, financial and resource investments required.
The Air Force started IT transformation in 2015 in a contract with Dell, Microsoft and General Dynamics Information Technology, according to the announcement. Over the past two years, the military branch deployed Microsoft Office 365's email, communication tools and productivity suite.
The $1 billion contract is a successor to the 2015 deal. The Air Force is trying to create a modern workplace for large workforce, but transformation efforts that large take time. Because of the sensitive nature of the data, large IT migrations to the cloud require time and close attention to detail to ensure system vulnerabilities are not introduced. The more connected a system, the more difficult it is to secure all system touchpoints.
The federal government is moving to the cloud more quickly as trust in the virtualized technology has increased. At the Justice Department, for example, keeping hardware and software current is one of the best ways to reduce risk, but it does become an operational challenge. Just as in the private sector, agencies have to determine when it's best turn to "as a Service" models or keep technology stacks in house.