HealthCare.gov

CMS extends Terremark's cloud hosting duties on HealthCare.gov

cloud concept with man in suit

HealthCare.gov will stay with cloud host Verizon Terremark for a little while longer. The company received a task order estimated at $58 million over seven months, split into a four-month base period with three 30-day options to continue as the host of the federally facilitated marketplace and the underlying data hub that routes requests for information to various government databases.

The site, operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was set to move to Hewlett-Packard on March 31, at the close of the open enrollment period for purchasing health insurance under the 2010 health care law. HP won the data center contract in June 2013, before the troubled launch of HealthCare.gov in October.

The extension is needed, CMS said in contract documents, because the replication of Terremark data didn't begin until the end of December, and necessary "application discovery" meetings didn't begin until January. The extension was finalized in mid-February, but not published to FedBizOpps.gov until March 6.

Verizon Terremark declined to comment for this story.

In January a CMS spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that HP would be moving data from Terremark to its own servers in two locations, a primary data center in Tulsa, Okla., and a backup in Littleton, Mass.

The extension of Terremark's hosting duties is necessary to keep HealthCare.gov up and running, according to contract documents. "Failure to award this order will greatly jeopardize the Marketplace program and result in system performance issues of HealthCare.gov," according to the contract documents.

The performance of HealthCare.gov has stabilized as the result of several months of hardware and software improvements. The most recent update from CMS indicates that response times are under half a second and the error rate is below half of one percent.

Cloud outages were also an issue in the early days of HealthCare.gov. An outage at Terremark caused a crash in late October, in the midst of the "tech surge" designed to fix problems plaguing the site. CMS modified its contract with Terremark to ramp up server capacity just days before the launch of HealthCare.gov, after tests revealed that the site could support only 10,000 concurrent users. This September modification was not publicly disclosed until January 2014. 

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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