Cloud

VA plans major cloud procurement for FY16

Shutterstock image (by Maksim Kababou): cloud technology concept.

With a handful of questions to industry, the Department of Veterans Affairs signaled an upcoming shift to the cloud as part of CIO LaVerne Council's "buy first" strategy.

In an April 4 request for information posted on FedBizOpps, VA officials said they would like to create a partnership with a cloud services broker -- a single provider to act as a gateway to a range of cloud options from multiple vendors.

The cloud push covers network modernization, development platforms, infrastructure and enterprise software. Officials also want to move a range of IT functions to the cloud, including unified communications and data hosting.

"This is part of our new strategy to buy first, in particular to reduce our complexity," Council told FCW. The VA maintains more than 365 data centers and over 800 custom applications, and moving to the cloud is a way to simplify the VA's portfolio and to secure data and IT assets, she added.

Her principal deputy, Ron Thompson, is leading the cloud effort. As an IT executive at the Department of Health and Human Services, he worked on that agency's effort to fast-track cloud vendors through the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program.

"We want to take the opportunity to use cloud to advance and standardize our common IT services initially, to focus around the core delivery, to ensure consistency, to ensure that we have future capacity for growth, to ensure that we have a standard way of delivering our services to our veterans," Thompson said.

However, modernization costs money, which can be hard to come by in a tight fiscal climate. Although officials are hopeful that the savings they achieve by eliminating legacy systems will eventually justify the costs of moving to the cloud, there will be some upfront expenditures.

"Obviously, while we're standing up this new capability, there will be transition costs to move and migrate over," Thompson told FCW. "There will be some additional cost while that's occurring."

The VA is asking interested cloud brokers to answer five questions that detail their experience and capacity and their ability to act as both a broker and a provider without a conflict of interest. Responses are due by April 18.

Thompson said the VA plans to release a request for proposals sometime in the current fiscal year.

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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