SAIC [SAIC] has launched a new “Innovation Factory” to position its technology contracting efforts for the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security’s growing emphasis on finding high-performing development teams to push out new applications in “a matter of hours.”
Charles Onstott, SAIC’s chief technology officer, told Defense Daily the new facility addresses an increasing number of potential contracts that focus on coding challenges and rapid prototyping rather than written proposals to find vendors capable of providing high-performing teams for secure developmental operations (DevSecOps) work.
“There are definitely projects that you couldn’t even bid on it without having this capability,” Onstott said. “The intent with the launch is to tell the government we can operate at this speed, we can deliver you solutions incrementally.”
“Innovation Facility,” launched in October, encompasses bringing together SAIC’s technology development teams, such as application modernization and advanced analytics, along with partners such as Amazon [AMZN] Web Services and Red Hat [RHT] to deliver rapid solutions.
Onstott said SAIC is already working on projects that the company won in part because of its new facility and approach.
John Coble, solutions director for SAIC’s DevOps team, told Defense Daily the new approach with “Innovation Factory” allows the company to demonstrate an ability to deploy a fully-formed application in hours, a process that previously would take at least a month.
“They want to operate in this rapid fire DevOps model. If you can’t show them that you can execute in that model, they’re not going to give you the contract,” Coble said.
The Innovation Factory approach is made of a partner-assisted development stack to build mission applications: cloud computing from AWS and Microsoft [MSFT] Azure, a Kubernetes container orchestration system, Red Hat’s Openshift platform-as-a-service offering and the set of continuous development and integration tools.
“Four-fifths of this stack is going to be pre-vetted and made available to hundreds of SAIC project teams around the country. Normally, with a project team, when they start a new contract they’ve got to build this entire stack from top to bottom themselves. It usually takes two to three months to get all of this stood up and operational. What we’re talking about is we can deploy four-fifths of this in about an hour, which is incredible,” Coble said.
Coble said government customers are placing emphasis on rapid technology deployment that is nearly impossible to complete without a capability such as the “ready to go” stack.
DHS has implemented one-day coding challenges to test vendors’ ability, with DoD expected to start the same process in the near future.
“If we didn’t have the automated toolset and the team ready to go, we wouldn’t be able to participate in that,” Onstott said. “And when we win the work, we use that same approach to do the work.”
Onstott said “Innovation Factory” will also focus on internal rapid prototyping investments to show government customers what’s in the realm of the possible.
“There’s a lot more focus on rapid acquisition and rapid innovation. There’s a lot of activity going on around application modernization, and they want to get that done faster. They want to create new capabilities quickly, and then also test out new technologies,” Onstott told Defense Daily. “I don’t really see it overtaking the majority of the revenue that we generate as a company. But I definitely see it becoming a bigger wedge in the types of revenue that we can pursue.”