IT Modernization

VA expects movement on cloud acquisition this month

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

The Department of Veterans Affairs has leaned heavily on IT to improve its service to and relationship with veterans. Cloud is a key part of that effort, and the agency is beginning to see progress on the cloud acquisition for its department-wide modernization project.

"IT is one of the critical enablers to make that happen," said Principal Deputy CIO Ron Thompson. "We're transforming IT… We're staffing critical positions, and we're transforming our supply chain management."

Thompson, who spoke at AFCEA NOVA's Sept. 1 Joint Warfighter IT Day, sees cloud as an enabler of VA's ongoing modernization. Currently the agency operates more than 365 data centers, and maintains 128 versions of its electronic health record system VistA. Thompson estimated that major projects such as VistA's move to the cloud, and significant progress on data center consolidation, are "probably at least two years out."

"We're really focused on modernizing our core infrastructure, modernizing our unified communications, consolidating our data centers and using cost-effective services… and learning from industry where it makes sense," he said.

In July, VA opted to use the vendor list of the NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center as the starting point for its cloud procurement.

"We are in the tail end of that acquisition cycle right now, so we are anticipating movement in that sometime in September," Thompson told FCW.

Thompson said the initial move to the cloud will focus on commodity IT, such as e-mail and other workhorse applications, to ensure there are no hiccups before moving VA's large-scale custom applications.

"Typically, when you talk to organizations about cloud, it's development only," Thompson said. "We're looking all the way through the value chain – development, pre-production, production."

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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