COVID-19 fallout unlocks unique opportunities for the telecom industry to build out edge infrastructure

vRAN will become a major driver of edge compute scale-outs

Communication service providers (CSPs) that are driving forward with virtualized radio access network (vRAN), most notably Rakuten and Dish, will build many thousands of edge sites over the next few years to support their vRAN topologies. These edge sites will need to be located within 10 miles of the remote radio unit to meet the strict time synchronization requirements of vRAN. Additionally, these edge sites, which will house the virtualized baseband unit, can be multipurposed, supporting more workloads than just RAN traffic, which could unlock new monetization options for these CSPs.

 

CSP spend on edge compute infrastructure will grow at a TBR-projected 54.5% CAGR from 2019 to 2024 to reach $90B by 2025

TBR estimates CSPs will own or lease over 1.2 million local edge sites (i.e., mini data centers) globally by 2025, up from nearly 9,000 sites globally at the end of 2019. The primary driver of edge build-outs during the forecast period is telcos’ and cablecos’ network transformations, which entail migrating to a cloudified and virtualized network, and webscales’ edge initiatives to support their cloud businesses and digital ecosystem endeavors.

In this new architecture, network functions will be virtualized and housed in NFV infrastructure, which is essentially a data center. Network sites, such as central offices, have been the primary edge compute locations to date, with cell site builds expected to ramp up significantly in 2021 and become the primary locations for the CSP edge by 2025. Converted retail store locations and customer premises locations are other site types where CSPs will locate their edge infrastructure. For more information pertaining to the market size and for further breakouts of the data, see TBR’s Telecom Edge Compute Market Forecast.

TBR’s Telecom Edge Compute Market Landscape, which is global in scope, deep dives into the edge compute-related initiatives of stakeholders in the telecom market including telecom operators, cable operators, webscales and vendors that supply the telecom market. The research includes key findings, market size, regional summary, technology trends, use cases, operator and vendor positioning and strategies, and acquisition and alliance strategies and opportunities.

AR and mixed reality: A view of the use cases driving change in industrial operations

In TBR’s recently published report Digital Transformation: Emerging Technologies: AR/VR, we discussed the AR, mixed reality (MR) and VR ecosystem and various applications of the technologies across industries such as automotive, healthcare and consumer. The report outlined key solutions being deployed today across the device spectrum, covering augmented, mixed and virtual reality headsets, which are characterized by how they manipulate or transfix virtual images on a physical environment, in addition to smartphone, tablet and heads-up displays in automobiles. This report’s focus will center around the Head Mounted Device Spectrum and the leading use cases that are being deployed within operational and industrial environments.

As you move from AR to VR, the level of immersion a device provides to its user increases. For instance, monocular and binocular AR devices are typically providing a fixed image over the physical environment, while MR and VR devices are capable of superimposing images on the physical environment and allow the user to manipulate those images. While MR and VR devices offer similar capabilities in regard to layering virtual information on the real world, a VR device closes the user off from the physical environment, providing a completely immersive experience for the user.

MR devices, such as Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) HoloLens 2, rely on a digital field of view to place virtual images over the actual physical environment, providing users with a better field of vision compared to their VR counterparts. Further, leading VR devices in the market today, such as the HTC VIVE, require a tether to a high-powered PC as they do not contain onboard computing like the HoloLens 2 does, increasing their cost over device counterparts and limiting their appeal among customers.

TBR believes these form-factor constraints limit the addressable market of VR headsets to consumer industries, such as gaming and entertainment, as they create significant challenges regarding user safety within industrial environments such as aerospace as well as in operational use cases such as field servicing. While VR devices will find traction in enterprise and industrial settings for use cases such as training or productivity, this report will focus on AR and MR devices supporting operational use cases in industrial environments today, and the market dynamics that are keeping the technology from reaching mainstream adoption. 

Understanding industrial use cases

AR technologies have been tested in industrial settings for years, with the majority of these early trials centered on monocular AR devices. For instance, dating back to 2016, the AR device specialist Vuzix (Nasdaq: VUZI) has worked with clients such as Airbus, General Electric (NYSE: GE), ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) and Merck (NYSE: MRK) around deployments of its M100 Monocular device. These early pilots largely focused on low-complexity use cases such as remote support and component assembly. The top challenges cited in these pilots largely centered on the immaturity of device form factors, with basic aspects such as device comfort, battery life or overheating limiting their appeal to customers.

Further, early devices contributed to the market perception that AR devices were highly futuristic yet unrealistic. For example, Google Glass, which was largely targeted at consumers, was piloted unsuccessfully by industrial customers due to form-factor challenges. While these early pilots did not reach mainstream adoption, they provided customers with a glimpse into the technology’s potential as they offered tangible ROI metrics, including error reductions during the assembly process and an increase in units produced, but would require significant maturation to the underlying device hardware for organizations to successfully deploy the technology.

It is easy to get lost in all of the marketing hype related to AR and mixed reality (MR) devices and solutions. In this report, TBR explores the leading use cases that characterize the near-term opportunities within industrial environments today, while also taking a closer look at the market challenges that technology suppliers and industrial customers are grappling with. Though end-user intrigue around AR and MR in industrial settings is high, the market has yet to develop and may require greater involvement from IT services vendors to push the technologies out of niche deployments and toward mainstream adoption.

Quick Quantum Quips: Quantum commercialization is on our doorstep

Welcome to TBR’s monthly newsletter on the quantum computing market: Quick Quantum Quips (Q3). This market changes rapidly, and the hype can often distract from the realities of the actual technological developments. This newsletter keeps the community up to date on recent announcements while stripping away the hype around developments.

For more details, reach out to Stephanie Long or Geoff Woollacott to set up a time to chat.

September 2020 Developments

Recent developments in the quantum computing industry make one thing certain: The commercialization of quantum systems will occur during this decade. The vision of what quantum commercialization will look like varies from something that is very similar to classical systems and is consumed in the cloud to something as miniature as a desktop form factor. Regardless, quantum systems will have computational capabilities for commercial and academic use. TBR expects early production-grade systems to be used in a hybrid configuration with high-performance computing (HPC). As with many other elements of the economy being disrupted by technological innovation, the challenge will be in finding skilled labor to harness the power of quantum systems for economic advantage.

  1. IBM unveiled its quantum road map in September. Included in its road map are the release of a 433-qubit system named Osprey in 2022 and a 1,121-qubit system named Condor in 2023, the latter of which will be capable of enabling scalability. IBM also introduced a super-fridge, named Goldeneye, which is 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. This development will support the eventual creation of a 1 million-qubit quantum system, which is expected to be released by 2030. This road map makes it clear that at IBM, commercialization of quantum computing is expected within the decade, and therefore, the time has arrived for companies to explore becoming quantum-ready at scale.
  2. Zapata Computing unveiled a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) to help better align its research agenda around quantum computing with the business needs of global companies interested in pursuing quantum computing within their road maps. Zapata seeks to expand scientific innovation more rapidly than it could do on its own while using SAB-initiated collaboration to pursue advancements that are targeted at customer demand. Expanding within academia remains a goal even though the SAB targets enterprise-level collaboration.
  3. D-Wave, in partnership with the Universities Space Research Association and Standard Chartered Bank, announced a quantum research competition with the goal of bringing quantum computing to nonprofits and universities. The competition aims to advance developments around quantum computing and AI, and the prize for the winner is free time to access the D-Wave 2000Q system.
  4. D-Wave appointed Daniel Ley as SVP of sales and Allison Schwartz as Global Government Relations and Public Affairs leader in September. These appointments highlight that D-Wave is targeting the public sector for sales of its quantum systems, and rightfully so as many governments have allocated budget dollars for quantum investments.
  5. Q-CTRL partnered with Quantum Machines to integrate Q-CTRL’s quantum firmware with Quantum Machines’ orchestration hardware and software offering. The quantum computing market is becoming crowded as startups emerge and more established firms devote some resources to quantum computing innovation. As such, smaller firms like Q-CTRL and Quantum Machines partnering to augment individual capabilities will become more commonplace the closer we get to commercialization at the end of the decade.
  6. Microsoft, in partnership with the University of Copenhagen, has discovered a new material that can be used to simplify topological quantum computing. Presently, large magnetic fields are necessary for computation to take place. The research combined aluminum, europium sulfide and indium arsenide, which together enable a quantum wire device to be an additional and necessary component of topological quantum systems. Ridding the system of the need for magnetic fields is a major breakthrough because the inclusion of a strong magnetic field, while advantageous for the system, could result in unintended negative impacts to other components or systems located within close proximity to the quantum system.

If you would like more detailed information around the quantum computing market, please inquire about TBR’s Quantum Computing Market Landscape, a semiannual deep dive into the quantum computing market. Our upcoming version, which will publish in December, will focus on the software layer of quantum systems. You can also sign up for our webinar on the topic as well, which will be held on Dec. 16 at 1 p.m. EST.

In an unlikely pairing, Oracle backs TikTok to drive OCI business and intimidate IaaS competitors

Acquisition turned partnership: Oracle bands together with TikTok

Oracle’s presence in TikTok-related news — from competitive bid to strategic partnership to now minority stakeholder — has raised eyebrows from the beginning, given the company’s complete detachment from the social media business. Oracle executives have not been shy about expressing their support for the current White House administration, nor for their plans to take IaaS share from Amazon Web Services (AWS) (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT).

In fact, Microsoft, which showed great interest in TikTok initially, had far more to gain from a potential deal. However, regardless of how Oracle was brought into consideration, the agreement has the potential to benefit Oracle in several ways, including stronger governmental ties, gaining a win over Microsoft, onboarding a new Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) customer, owning a stake in a profitable company, and lastly, earning the chance to convince the market that Oracle is evolving from an old-school software company to an adaptive cloud vendor that has ties with an up-and-coming generation.  

What does this mean for Oracle’s cloud business?

Big logos give Oracle a confidence boost in chasing competitors, with AWS as leading target

In many ways, TikTok is just another name Oracle can add to its roster of recent high-profile OCI wins, including Zoom and 8×8. Despite the attention that was given to these deals amid COVID-19, Zoom still runs most of its workloads on AWS or in its own data centers. This latest win follows a similar trend, as TikTok is in the middle of a three-year agreement with Google Cloud (Nasdaq: GOOGL), promising to buy over $800 million in cloud services.

However, as part of Oracle’s 12.5% stake in the new company, TikTok will also run on OCI. While this allows Oracle to boast a win over Microsoft and Google Cloud, IaaS incumbent AWS remains the company’s primary target. Recent updates, such as a cost-analysis tool, plans to scale to 36 live public cloud regions by mid-2021, and strategic technology partnerships with Microsoft and VMware (NYSE: VMW) are just a few ways Oracle will continue to apply the pressure.

After months of deliberation on the fate of TikTok — a social media application owned by China-based internet technology company ByteDance — due to security concerns raised by the Trump administration, the U.S. government and involved parties came to a tentative agreement on Sept. 19.

Per the agreement, TikTok will transition to a publicly traded U.S. company, with Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) as initial stakeholders. Under the new deal, ByteDance will hold an 80% stake in the new company, dubbed TikTok Global, which is scheduled to hit the market through an initial public offering in less than one year. Combined, Oracle and Walmart will hold the remaining 20% stake, leveraging data to improve their respective positions in technology and retail. While TikTok will maintain control of its algorithms, the deal will still bring TikTok under U.S. financial law and subject it to security oversight by Oracle as a vested technology partner.

Enterprise edge compute sees opportunity in COVID-19 economy as new use cases emerge

COVID-19 increases demand for edge installments

Despite some challenges and resistance to adoption, the opportunity at the enterprise edge is vast, as edge workloads present a key solution to many of the new problems that have popped up due to COVID-19. For example, brick-and-mortar shopping was once seen as a leisure activity and has now become a front line from which a virus can spread. While retail is a key vertical with much to gain from edge workloads in the era of COVID-19, it is not the only one. Manufacturing floors now require social distancing of workers, which slows down production, and technicians cannot go on-site to fix malfunctioning hardware. The edge is the solution to many of these problems, with use cases including contact tracing, temperature-monitoring cameras, and AI-enabled surveillance to monitor for adequate social distancing and mask wearing.

TBR’s Enterprise Edge Compute Market Landscape, which is global in scope, details edge compute trends among both vendors and their customers. Vendor coverage includes: Amazon Web Services, Atos, Cisco, Dell Technologies, Digital Realty, Equinix, Huawei, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Lenovo and Microsoft. This research includes current-year market sizing and a five-year forecast.

PwC’s design of a Central Lending Platform concept for Singapore: Acceleration and digitization for struggling SMEs

A pandemic-induced national problem with a PwC-designed solution

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic fallout, Singapore’s government sought to bolster the SME market, which employs 70% of the city-state’s workforce and generates 50% of its gross domestic product (GDP), in part through a risk-sharing program for loans to eligible SMEs. Early efforts attracted only 2% of the SMEs to apply for loans, which PwC attributed in part to lengthy loan application and approval processes exacerbated by the COVID-19 lockdown. The gap due to surge in demand and reduced supply provided an opportunity for PwC to design a Central Lending Platform to simplify the loan process, quickly connect SMEs to multiple banks in one single platform, facilitate faster access to capital, and provide Singapore’s government with analytics and data surrounding the SME sector and associated market share, including delivering insight into industry competitiveness to guide quicker and more meaningful policy decisions.

A platform to benefit Singapore’s banks and SMEs

PwC’s design of a Central Lending Platform provides a number of essential benefits for SMEs, Singapore banks and Singapore’s government, including the minimization of human efforts and errors in loan applications and processing; always-on, always available services; and the collection and assembly of previously uncollected data in a single, digital place.

According to PwC, banks prepared to loan to SMEs will rely on the platform for an “immediate eligibility assessment” of whether an SME meets the criteria developed by Singapore’s government. The digital platform will eliminate the need for banks’ loan relationship managers to check the completeness of documents, a process that PwC noted contributed to a 6- to 10-week waiting time from application submission to access to capital. Within three days of an SME’s application, banks will submit loan terms and conditions, although banks can submit loan terms and conditions ahead of the three-day window, and the applying SME can compare and evaluate. In addition, the platform should help banks more efficiently penetrate the SME market as well as accelerate the digitalization of Singapore’s banking sector.

In late August, PwC announced an initiative that can complement the Singapore government’s efforts to facilitate bank loans to small and midsize enterprises (SMEs). Given the confluence of technology, consulting and PwC’s continually evolving business model, TBR requested a discussion with the firm’s leaders working on this initiative. On Sept. 2, TBR spoke with Irene Liu, PwC’s Government and Public Services Co-Lead; Charles Loh, PwC Singapore Consulting Leader; Shierly Mondianti, PwC Southeast Asia Risk & Regulatory Consulting Manager; Andy Goldin, Southeast Asia Head of Advanced Analytics; and Lincoln Yin, CEO of Singapore-based financial technology (fintech) company RootAnt. This special report reflects the discussion and TBR’s ongoing analysis of PwC and its management consulting peers.

Remote work requirements will accelerate cloud adoption road maps, fueling public cloud growth

With Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google and Alibaba established as the IaaS cloud market leaders, Technology Business Research, Inc. (TBR) has noted an increase in partner ecosystem activity, particularly among IT services vendors, such as Accenture, Infosys and Cognizant, that are vying for a share of cloud services like migration and implementation.

Consolidation will accelerate as leaders embrace coopetition, evidenced by activity from Microsoft and Oracle that allied to target AWS’ dominance in the IaaS space. This trend will further separate the leaders from the rest of the pack while creating an adjacent opportunity as customers deploy multivendor and hybrid cloud environments — which bodes well for infrastructure specialists such as IBM’s Red Hat and VMware, particularly as the latter maintains its emphasis on being vendor agnostic. Further, TBR expects rising enterprise appetites around technologies like containerized applications will facilitate PaaS market momentum in the near term as customers develop and test the application frameworks internally before making them live on their hybrid architectures.

 

Overall Forecast

Though the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting the public cloud market, benchmarked vendors with the largest market share are positioned to protect their leadership, as a diverse install base buffers spending slowdowns in industries such as hospitality. Other vendors are relying on strategic investments in areas like data integration and multicloud management to carve footholds in PaaS and become more attractive among infrastructure leaders that are increasingly embracing vendor agnosticism to expand their IaaS addressable market.

Public cloud remains the largest and fastest growing segment of the cloud market. The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced enterprise customers to increase their usage of cloud infrastructure and solutions, a trend that will benefit leading cloud providers and lead to further consolidation in areas such as IaaS and PaaS through the current forecast period. The Public Cloud Market Forecast details how hybrid deployments, new use cases for enterprise apps, and trends in emerging technology will make public cloud even more relevant in the future.

Cloud supports enterprise needs related to COVID-19, facilitating public cloud revenue growth

 

With Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google and Alibaba established as the IaaS cloud market leaders, Technology Business Research, Inc. (TBR) has noted an increase in partner ecosystem activity, particularly among IT services vendors, such as Accenture, Infosys and Cognizant, that are vying for a share of cloud services like migration and implementation.

Consolidation will accelerate as leaders embrace coopetition, evidenced by activity from Microsoft and Oracle that allied to target AWS’ dominance in the IaaS space. This trend will further separate the leaders from the rest of the pack while creating an adjacent opportunity as customers deploy multivendor and hybrid cloud environments — which bodes well for infrastructure specialists such as IBM’s Red Hat and VMware, particularly as the latter maintains its emphasis on being vendor agnostic. Further, TBR expects rising enterprise appetites around technologies like containerized applications will facilitate PaaS market momentum in the near term as customers develop and test the application frameworks internally before making them live on their hybrid architectures.

Public cloud remains the largest and fastest growing segment of the cloud market. The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced enterprise customers to increase their usage of cloud infrastructure and solutions, a trend that will benefit leading cloud providers and lead to further consolidation in areas such as IaaS and PaaS through the current forecast period. The Public Cloud Market Forecast details how hybrid deployments, new use cases for enterprise apps, and trends in emerging technology will make public cloud even more relevant in the future.

NVIDIA acquires ARM: Creating a next-generation AI platform

NVIDIA announced Sept. 14 an agreement to acquire ARM holdings from SoftBank for $40 billion, subject to regulatory approval in the U.S., the U.K., the European Union and China. The acquisition has been rumored for several weeks, but the announcement generated negative comments from ARM customers. The two companies’ IP portfolios complement each other, especially in the context of rapidly growing AI workloads. TBR believes the combined company can successfully create new integrated AI hardware platforms, while growing profitable in each former company’s primary business, graphics processors for NVIDIA and mobile CPUs for ARM.

Complementary IP and different business models

ARM is in the CPU business. NVIDIA is in the graphics processing unit (GPU) business, and NVIDIA GPUs are increasingly used in non-graphics AI processing applications. Both companies rely on microprocessor design to deliver value and grow their businesses, but the way each company monetizes its IP is very different. NVIDIA is a traditional product-based business; it makes processors and boards that it sells to equipment manufacturers and to cloud service providers. ARM follows a licensing model; it sells the rights to use its designs and instruction sets to equipment manufacturers that often modify the ARM designs to meet their needs.

One concern of current ARM customers is that NVIDIA will eventually move ARM to a product model; only NVIDIA will make hardware that incorporates ARM designs, shutting off customers’ ability to customize ARM-based chips. This would be a disaster for the major mobile OEMS, including industry behemoths Apple and Samsung. ARM chips power virtually all smartphones and tablets, and mobile vendors rely on derivative ARM designs for differentiated products. Apple makes its own modifications and recently announced that its PCs will be migrated from Intel to ARM processors, allowing the company to have a uniform hardware platform for all its major products. Samsung designs its own ARM processors but relies on third-party ARM designer Qualcomm for many of its products. To make matters more confusing, Samsung manufactures both Qualcomm and Apple processors.

NVIDIA announced that it would continue the current ARM licensing business model and, in fact, would license some of its GPU IP in the same manner. Nevertheless, ARM customers are concerned because strategically vital licensed IP would now be owned by a hardware vendor. TBR believes the ARM licensing model will continue for ARM designs and the same model will greatly benefit NVIDIA’s GPU business as well.

NVIDIA is transitioning from graphics to AI

NVIDIA is the dominant vendor in GPUs, and for that reason, if its processors were used only for graphics, its growth would be limited to the growth of graphics applications. GPUs, however, are also well-suited for AI deep learning applications because both graphics and deep learning rely on massively parallel processing.

2Q20 is a crossover quarter. For the first time, NVIDIA data center revenue, which is almost all AI, was greater than revenue from graphics applications in PCs. NVIDIA data center revenue grew 167% year-to-year; NVIDIA will soon be dominated by AI applications in data centers. There is competition in AI processors from Google’s tensor processing unit (TPU) and from field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), as well as several new AI processing entrants, including two from Intel. Nevertheless, NVIDIA enjoys an enormous lead in a very rapidly growing business.

GPUs and CPUs working together

GPUs and CPUs coexist. Every device that uses GPUs for AI needs CPUs for all the other required processing. In data centers, the CPU is now almost always an Intel product. While ARM designs are increasingly powerful, as illustrated by Apple’s decision to use them for PCs, they are not yet used widely for data center devices. Where the GPU is doing most of the work, however, ARM-NVIDIA designs could be quite viable. ARM-NVIDIA designs would also work well in edge devices. This synergy positions NVIDIA well in a world where deep learning is becoming increasingly important.

Applications for deep learning are becoming more diverse, creating a variety of settings and requirements for CPU-GPU platforms. This proliferation of design requirements is a challenge for a product-based company like NVIDIA. The ARM licensing business model fits this diversifying market very well. TBR believes NVIDIA will first experiment with the licensing of older GPU designs, but then move rapidly to licensing GPU IP for all AI applications, greatly accelerating adoption of NVIDIA designs for AI and inhibiting growth of competing AI chip designs.

The ARM acquisition will accelerate AI

While NVIDIA and ARM are not competitors, therefore reducing anti-trust concerns, many parties have expressed concerns about this acquisition. Both companies are very important, with NVIDIA dominating AI processors and ARM monopolizing mobile CPUs. There are also concerns about a U.S. company controlling these two critical components. In the U.K., there is concern about the loss of jobs. TBR, however, believes this union will prove beneficial, certainly to the combined company, but also to other companies basing their business on the growth of AI.

Turning the corner from crisis response to client recovery and renovation: CY2Q20 federal IT COVID-19 roundup

The impact of COVID-19 on revenue, profitability and award activity was material but also erratic and inconsistent across vendors

Federal IT vendors tracked in TBR’s Public Sector IT Services Benchmark generally reported at least some erosion of top-line growth or profitability in CY2Q20 that was directly or indirectly attributable to the pandemic. Many providers were compelled to revise downward revenue or margin guidance for their current fiscal year, though for some, the COVID-19 impacts during the quarter were less substantial than originally expected. In an early response to the coronavirus outbreak, vendors quickly shifted their focus to operational stability, cash preservation and maintaining program delivery.

Among the contractor set TBR follows, the vendor bookends for CY2Q20 fiscal performance were Maximus (NYSE: MMS) and General Dynamics IT (GDIT) (NYSE: GD). Maximus’ sales rose more than 23% year-to-year as the company fully leverages the citizen engagement centers it purchased from GDIT in late CY18. Maximus’ 2020 Census contract, which is expected to generate $360 million in revenue during the company’s FY20 (ending Sept. 30), continues to ramp up to full operations, providing most of Maximus’ federal segment growth in CY2Q20.

Also of note was ManTech (Nasdaq: MANT), which also appeared to fully elude the pandemic by posting 17.8% year-to-year growth (16.4% on an organic basis) in CY2Q20 and continued hiring aggressively to quickly scale new engagements and execute on key classified contracts. Conversely, GDIT suffered a 12.7% year-to-year decline in sales in CY2Q20, the fifth straight quarter of revenue contraction since the company completed the CSRA acquisition and sold its call center business to Maximus. COVID-19 drove a slowdown in award activity in CY2Q20, worsening delayed contracting actions GDIT has struggled with since late CY19. GDIT project teams were often unable to enter customer work sites, dampening sales (and margins) in CY2Q20, while the company has yet to replace revenue lost by the completion of several legacy programs in CY19. While growth at many of the remaining federal IT competitors TBR tracks was tempered in CY2Q20, most delivered at least marginal top-line growth while deflecting, to varying degrees, pandemic-related profit pressures.

New projects to aid the federal COVID-19 response did provide a handful of vendors with new revenue streams, but classified programs (particularly in the intelligence space) were a commonly cited challenge area. Many classified clients closed their sites to all but mission-critical employees during CY2Q20, generating growth and margin pressures that varied according to a vendor’s exposure to the classified arena.

The process for getting employees cleared for new classified projects or for simply getting clearances for new employees was also made more difficult by the pandemic, keeping some vendors from generating new revenue from some recent awards. Deploying project teams to nonclassified defense and civilian programs was also problematic, causing significant portions of vendor workforces to remain idle or underutilized and deferring revenue recognition, though this trend was less intense outside the classified space. Still, the federal government remained open during the early months of the pandemic, and most programs remain fully funded even as the coronavirus created a government shutdown of a different sort with effects that are and will remain unpredictable, even into CY21.

While the coronavirus hit during CY1Q20, the bulk of the pandemic-related turmoil in relation to program delivery, business development and operations was expected during CY2Q20. Federal IT vendors adapted quickly to manage the direct impacts of COVID-19 by shifting large swaths of their workforces to telework, activating new incident response protocols, and rolling out new virtual collaboration tools to maintain communication with clients and project teams. The resiliency of the federal IT market and proactive response to the crisis to ensure service continuity offset some of the headwinds to vendor fiscal performance, but uncertainty about the continued impact of the pandemic remains.