GSA's proposed cloud brokerage grabs industry attention

The General Services Administration had so much response to its request for information on a possible cloud brokerage services that it has extended the deadline for responses.

Officials initially planned to close the window for responses on Aug. 17. The new deadline is Sept. 7.

GSA had more than 160 industry participants at the Cloud Brokerage Industry Day Aug. 2, and the wait list was large enough that officials could not accommodate everyone who wanted to take part, said Stan Kaczmarczyk, director of cloud computing service at the Federal Acquisition Services’ Information Technology Services Office.

“When we spoke to our industry partners and saw the great questions, interest, and knowledge we could potentially tap, we decided it was in the best interest of both the government and industry to extend the RFI,” he said.

A cloud brokerage is one concept that GSA is exploring to manage the acquisition of cloud services. A cloud broker is an entity that manages the performance and delivery of cloud services, and negotiates relationships between cloud providers and cloud consumers.

The RFI contains questions specific to cloud brokerage. Officials want to know if the cloud brokerage concept will bring the government more benefits from cloud computing and if industry is ready to deliver the service today.

Officials want to know how agencies and industry have used cloud brokerage already and what experience has taught them.

On a larger scale, GSA is seeking innovative industry approaches for acquiring, securing, and managing advanced IT services, according to the RFI.

“We want to be amiable to the requests of our industry partners to ensure sure we are making decisions based on the best information available,” Kaczmarczyk said.

Officials estimate that $20 billion of the government’s $80 billion in IT spending is a potential target for migration to cloud computing solutions.

This year, GSA has worked with six agencies to evaluate the cloud brokerage concept, as well as discuss high-level requirements. Officials are wondering whether there’s a demand for a next generation cloud acquisition model potentially based on the cloud brokerage concept.

GSA officials said they plan to pursue an approach in fiscal 2013 to meet agencies’ growing interest. The main drivers are the increasing use of cloud IT services and the government’s efforts to minimize the cost of capital IT investments. Officials are also exploring new ways to make adopting cloud computing easier and more effective for agencies.

GSA wants to learn more about how the government can leverage the key characteristics and advantages of cloud computing. They want to use it to save money and make IT work more efficiently—two emphases of agencies in these tough economic times.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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