Alliant cloud and emerging technology


GSA’s Alliant program is playing an instrumental role in helping federal agencies transition to cloud computing. Alliant’s program staff and its contract holders are building expertise through a number of activities, such assisting GSA and other agencies with cloud initiatives and helping federal leaders create Statement of Objectives (SOO) templates for migrating services to the cloud.

“Our cloud task orders are not the largest in dollar volume and so don’t always get a lot of attention, but they offer great solutions to agencies for meeting OMB requirements,” said Richard Blake, Alliant Business Management Specialist, referring to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) cloud-first initiative.

The first cloud effort initiated through Alliant was a GSA task order to acquire cloud-based e-mail and collaboration tools. Under the $6.7 million award to Unisys Corp., GSA became the first federal agency to move e-mail to an agencywide cloud-based system, which is expected to reduce e-mail operations costs by 50 percent and save more than $15 million over five years. Since the GSA e-mail project, the Air Force, Navy, and Departments of Energy and Treasury have all begun cloud efforts using the Alliant vehicle; and other federal agencies are also planning cloud transitions using Alliant, officials said.

Some cloud migrations will not be labeled as such, but are components of larger initiatives.

Broad Scope Enables Access to Emerging Technologies

Because Alliant is a 10-year contract, GSA officials built Alliant so that it aligns with the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) and the Department of Defense Enterprise Architecture (DODEA). This means emerging technologies will fall within the scope of the contract, even if those technologies—such as cloud computing—were not anticipated or known when the contract was created. “Alliant’s scope can evolve and incorporate technology changes because the contract is anchored to the FEA,” said Casey Kelley, Alliant Program Manager.

Consequently, Alliant is serving as an important vehicle for helping agencies acquire not just cloud solutions, but also emerging virtualization, mobility, cybersecurity, and other cutting-edge solutions that are still in development. For example, GSA’s Public Buildings Service (PBS) is using the Alliant contract for its innovative Smart Building program, in part because Alliant will enable access to new smart-building technologies as they are developed and become available. Defense organizations also value the contract’s broad scope.

“The flexibility under Alliant to handle emerging technologies is important, because our DOD customers have critical needs,” said Mike Canales, a senior analyst in the office of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy. “Alliant has built in technology refreshments and enhancements that allow us to get access to emerging technologies.”

“Two agency customers that are planning to update their help-desk infrastructure will also move some of their Web services to the cloud as part of the overall project,” Blake said.

Alliant Supports Key Cloud Working Group
The Alliant program is also playing an important role assisting the interagency Cloud Migration Services Working Group. Established by OMB, the working group consists of representatives from 11 federal agencies and works in collaboration with the Alliant Shared Interest Group (SIG), the industry organization representing Alliant’s 58 contract holders. OMB tasked the group with developing SOO templates that can be used by federal agencies to acquire cloud migration services.

“The SOO will serve as an example for cloud solicitations,” said Daisy Bhagowalia, GSA Program Manager for Cloud Migration Services, who chairs the working group. Bhagowalia said agencies can tailor each SOO to meet their specific requirements, and they can adapt it to any type of contract vehicle. “The SOO gives them a very solid baseline covering the things they need to do to accomplish a cloud migration,” she said.

Stan Kaczmarczyk, Director of Federal Cloud Services for GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, said the working group turned to the Alliant program because Alliant has a broad scope that can handle the wide range of cloud solutions and it has an active industry organization. “Rather than develop a Statement of Objectives in a vacuum, we wanted to go out to industry and ask, “What do you need to see as far as requirements, data, and metrics in an agency Statement of Objectives, so you can intelligently assess our needs and bid competitively on the work?” Kaczmarczyk said.

The working group is developing two SOOs that address the five phases of migration to cloud services: 1) Inventory; 2) Application mapping; 3) Migration planning; 4) Migration Execution; and 5) Disposition. “Draft SOO Package 1” will cover the first three phases and be delivered to OMB in May; and “Draft SOO Package 2” will cover the last two phases and be delivered in December. After OMB officials review and approve the packages, they will be released to agencies for use.

A Cloud Resource
In addition to working on the Cloud Migration Services Working Group, the Alliant team has also presented its experiences and insights to groups such as the federal Cloud-First Task Force, which showcases how cloud solutions are being deployed among agencies to provide best practices for moving forward. “Because of our experience, the Alliant program has become a resource for other agencies to help them plan and implement their cloud migrations,” said Casey Kelley, Alliant program manager.

Thus far, one of the key lessons learned is the importance of selecting the right systems integrator for the migration, Blake said. “Only about 20 percent to 30 percent of a cloud project is actually the cloud portion, while the rest of the effort has to do with the planning, data migration, quality control and testing, training, and other complex issues,” he said. “The risk to government, when moving off to the cloud, lies not in the selection of a service provider (especially when considering the transition to cloud e-mail), but rather with selecting a systems integrator.”

About this Report

This report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Government Information Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors are not guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Government Information Group Content Solutions, please email us at [email protected]