A Lumen Technologies executive highlighted uptake of SD-WAN among government customers, as the company secured a 12-year contract to deliver a range of connectivity products to the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.
The company said in a press release it will provide high-speed connectivity, Wi-Fi and unified communications for 20 Navy JAG sites in the continental U.S. via software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). It will also supply managed security services hosted at the company’s federal data centers. The task order has an initial term of one year, with 11 one-year extension options.
Zain Ahmed, regional vice president of Lumen's federal government business, told Fierce that unlike other federal government customers that have sought to carry over legacy technologies into new contracts and modernize later, “Navy JAG looked to transform from the onset.”
He highlighted Navy JAG as an “early adopter” of new network technology, leading the way as government customers trend toward uptake of three main capabilities, including SD-WAN, zero trust security environments and edge computing.
“They’re looking to modernize out of the gate with SD-WAN,” he said, noting the technology offers “a better way to acquire bandwidth and then utilize in the best way suited for your needs. So, you can do more with less.”
A Lumen representative told Fierce the contract is worth around $12 million. It was awarded as part of the General Services Administration's 15-year, $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) technology procurement program. The U.S. government is in the process of updating its telecommunications purchase agreements, with all telecom inventory required to be sourced through EIS by the end of September 2022.
Cycles and trends
During the company’s Q1 2021 earnings call, Lumen CEO Jeff Storey noted public sector sales “were light” in late Q4 2020 and Q1 2021, contributing to a 4% year on year decline in Business Segment Revenue. He explained Covid-related “government slowdowns have created fewer opportunities to win new awards,” but added “we believe the pause in these factors will prove to be simply one of timing.”
Ahmed said the company expects a “decent volume” of public sector deals to come through in Q2 and Q3, given the federal government’s fiscal year ends September 30.
In terms of what those deals might cover, Ahmed pointed to the aforementioned trends toward SD-WAN, edge compute and security. Longer term, he tipped network function virtualization (NFV) to gain steam, and predicted “edge is going to be a bigger part of the conversation, with specifically AI, ML coming into play and having latency requirements that are close to 10 milliseconds that’ll require you to have compute closer to where the mission action is taking place.”