Army National Guard's Moratorium on VMware Purchases Will Last Until At Least October

The Army National Guard, which declared a moratorium on VMware purchases last July for budgetary reasons, now says it won't resume buying VMware software until October at the earliest.

"We anticipate lifting the moratorium in [the federal government's fiscal 2016] based on current FY16 funding projections," Rick Breitenfeldt, chief of media relations for the National Guard Bureau, told CRN on Tuesday.

It's the latest sign of the fallout from a $78.1 million VMware enterprise licensing agreement with the U.S. Army, which began in September 2013 and expired March 30. The ELA covered software upgrades and maintenance renewals for the Army's existing VMware products, as well as unlimited downloads of additional VMware product licenses, and has caused sticker shock for some commands.

[Related: U.S. Army On Its Own Now As VMware Cuts Nearly All Customer Support]

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That's because Army commands that downloaded additional product licenses under the ELA were accruing additional software maintenance and support charges, which helped fuel the big bills, sources told CRN recently.

Breitenfeldt told CRN the Army National Guard received a larger-than-expected ELA bill last July from the Army CIO/G-6 office, which handled billing for the ELA. It then declared a moratorium on VMware purchases to stay within its annual budget, he said.

The Army's Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) and Army Corps of Engineers have also received larger-than-expected bills from the ELA, sources told CRN recently.

The federal government's fiscal 2016 begins Oct. 1, so that's the earliest the Army National Guard could lift its VMware moratorium. Breitenfeldt didn't offer a more specific time frame, so the moratorium could last beyond October.

In the meantime, the Army National Guard "is fulfilling its VMware product and support needs with existing infrastructure, licenses and products," said Breitenfeldt.

Has the Army National Guard previously implemented moratoriums on purchases of products from other IT vendors? "Not to my knowledge," Breitenfeldt said.

A VMware spokesman declined comment.

Since the ELA has expired, the Army is now operating without a VMware support contract in place, which could lead to additional costs if it runs into technical issues running VMware software.

VMware continued providing product upgrades, warranties and support services to the Army for two months after the ELA expired. But as of June 1, VMware is only giving it access to security patches.

The Army is working on another volume licensing contract to address its VMware needs. But the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) -- the Department of Defense branch that coordinated the Army's original one-year VMware ELA and its six-month extension -- is staying on the sidelines this time around.

"DISA is not involved or actively negotiating a new VMware ELA for the Army. The Army is working their own VMware effort," DISA spokeswoman Alana Johnson said in an email Tuesday.