• The Institutional Computing Environment contract with ManTech allows JPL to focus on its space-related missions.
     The Institutional Computing Environment contract with ManTech allows JPL to focus on its space-related missions.
  • JPL’s need for data storage grows with its research.
     JPL’s need for data storage grows with its research.

JPL to Benefit from Cloud-Based Computing Services

August 31, 2017
By Kimberly Underwood
E-mail About the Author

New IT services contract aims to save costs.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), responsible for space robotics and Earth science, among other planetary things, will lean on cloud-based computer services to keep its data secure but accessible to its scientists.  

JPL hopes to save costs in its cyber-related operations under its new Institutional Computing Environment (ICE) services contract with ManTech International Corporation. 

Located in Pasadena, California, JPL is a federally funded research and development center managed by the California Institute of Technology (known as Caltech). The NASA laboratory outsources all of its information technology (IT) needs. 

The new ICE contract covers a broad range of IT management services for 7,000 users, employees and contractors, including mainframes, back-office servers, computing hardware for end users and desktop machines. On the software side, the contract includes systems and applications, some JPL-specific; cloud computing; application management; and other IT services. JPL also contracts out for its communications and network services, including data, voice, mobile and wireless communications.  

“JPL is a very unique animal—their very nature makes them a very unique customer,” says Chris Bishop, senior vice president, strategic sales, for ManTech’s Mission Solutions and Services group. “And they are very innovative and forward thinking.  Their motto is ‘Dare Mighty Things,’ and that permeates everything they do, whether they are talking about their core mission of providing planetary robotics or whether it is IT.”

Bishop asserts that one key aspect of the contract is cost savings. “JPL’s core mission is planetary robotics space craft,” he explains. “To the extent that JPL can reduce the amount of dollars they spend on IT infrastructure, in favor of their core mission, that is of great interest to them.”

In particular, however, it is the cloud-based services that aim to reduce JPL’s cost exposure. “The cloud will allow us to significantly reduce costs of operations for them,” purports Bishop. “So from that standpoint, it’s going to be very important to JPL.”

JPL also is particularly interested in defending their networks from cyber vulnerabilities. Here, ManTech will aim to bring in best practices from the defense and intelligence communities to provide the most secure infrastructure network possible.

“Cybersecurity is absolutely of critical importance to JPL—protecting their devices, networks, and data,” Bishop shares. ManTech wants to provide JPL with the most secure posture possible. “As you might expect, they certainly want to protect their own mission and data,” he says.

Additionally, the contract extensions allow JPL to add requirements to the scope of the contract over time to cover other initiatives or emerging requirements that JPL may have.

ManTech will take over the helm of JPL’s ICE services on January 1, 2018, under a $180 million four-year base contract, which includes contract extensions over a 10-year period, with a total potential value of $450 million. ManTech will partner with two companies under the contract, the 1901 Group, which will help provide tailored service management solutions, and World Wide Technology Incorporated, which will assist in providing supply chain fulfillment services.

And since JPL is a pretty forward-leaning organization, ManTech has to make sure “that we can put the best technologies in their hands as fast as possible,” says Bishop. “This is a big part of the contract.”

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