GSA contracts enable migration to cloud: Davie

Procurement contracts available to federal agencies cover most, but not quite all, of what agencies need to buy products and services to migrate to the cloud, Mary Davie, assistant commissioner with the General Services Administration’s Office of Integrated Technology Services, told a cloud computing conference. Where an agency has a specifc need that's not met, there are often solutions that won't require a new contract, she said.

“The answer isn’t always [that] you need another contract or Blanket Purchase Agreement,” Davie said. “It may be that agencies can work together and talk about what common terms and conditions should look like, what is the best way to buy and what should service level agreements look like and how do we implement” them, she said. Existing contracts cover about 90 percenrt of the needed products and services, she said.

Agencies need to manage and monitor things afterwards to make sure they maintain what they’ve accomplished, she said. Davie  gave the keynote address at the Cloud Computing & Virtualization Conference and Expo on Sept. 8 in Washington, D.C. The conference, held from Sept. 7 to 9 in Washington, D.C. was sponsored by 1105 Media Inc., parent company of Federal Computer Week.

Cloud computing provides on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or interaction from the service provider.

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GSA has worked to develop solutions that can make migration to the cloud easier, which are available now throughout numerous different Integrated Technology Services vehicles such as Alliant, Networx and SmartBuy contracts, Davie said.

GSA procured its own email-as-a service solution that uses Alliant, Davie said. Alliant and Alliant SB are very flexible, especially for users with complex requirements and unique services needs.

GSA migrated 17,000 e-mail accounts to Google Apps over six months. GSA officials expect using a cloud-based system will reduce e-mail operating costs by 50 percent during the next fives years and save more than $15.2 million for the agency.

GSA has streamlined infrastructure-as-a service (IaaS) and e-mail-as-a-service offerings to make cloud procurement easier. The IaaS BPA is a multiple award contract that includes cloud storage, virtual machines and Web hosting. Authority to operate have been granted for three vendors in cloud storage, four for virtual machine and three vendors in Web hosting with about eight more to go, Davie said.

All vendors have been certified to operate at the Federal Information Security Management Act moderate level security, meaning that 252 security controls have been reviewed and tested. The IaaS BPA helped GSA test the waters for the Federal Risk Authorization and Management Program, an effort to improve the security accreditation process by using an approach that can be vetted and reused across the government.

Typically it takes up to a year for an agency to do this vetting on its own, and can cost $250,000 to $400,000 for a company to operate, she said. “So if you think about what GSA has taken on and what we will be able to offer to government, it is a huge cost and time saving,” Davie said.

The GSA is poised to award contracts to providers of e-mail services by mid October, Davie said.

Agencies are moving infrastructure-related applications to the cloud such as e-mail, collaboration tools, document management systems, Web hosting services, geo-spatial applications for information sharing as well as application development and testing platforms, Davie said.

An agency such as the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is probably in the best position to move to the cloud, Davie said, because it does not have legacy systems or IT baggage. The agency is planning to secure all of its data services through the cloud or at least three sources in the private federal cloud.

“They are not planning to own any data center assets. They are already 100 percent web-hosted in the cloud. And they’ve stood up a cloud data center for development testing and production,” Davie said.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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