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Project of the Week: GSA’s Federal Cloud Computing Program

Government Rockstar Mary Davie has been posting Projects of the Week for some time now…but this is the first time I’ve been able to catch up with her after she started her new role as GSA’s Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Integrated Technology Services (ITS). Below is a quick Q&A that highlights GSA’s efforts to make cloud computing more common across government:

Q: What’s going on with GSA and Cloud Computing?

Mary: The General Service Administration’s (GSA) Cloud Information Technology (IT) Services provides cloud computing options for government agencies. GSA’s Cloud IT Services program seeks to streamline the range of GSA’s service offerings to create easy-to-use, fast, and flexible cloud computing-specific offerings. These offerings assist agencies to become more informed consumers, better manage their IT resources and comply with government mandates and executive orders. GSA continues to provide government agencies with the best obtainable contract terms and conditions through integrated IT solutions that deliver a sustainable and more efficient and effective government for the American people.

Cloud computing is the the future of government IT. Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider information. Cloud computing solutions make government more efficient by allowing agencies to focus on their missions.

GSA’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) establishes commoditized pricing for infrastructure services for the first time. Awarded in October 2010, it will be open for use once awardees complete security certifications. A second BPA for Email-as-a-Service, due to be awarded later this year, will enable agencies to more easily migrate their premise-based email to the cloud. Both of these contract vehicles are key components of the Federal CIO’s “25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT.”

Once available, these integrated Cloud services solutions will be accessible through Apps.gov, a one-stop shop for cloud IT services. There, agencies can cross-compare cloud products and services and download Scope of Work templates and ordering guides.

Q: What was the impetus for this project?

Mary: In 140-characters or less:

  • Potential $20 billion cloud computing opportunity in the FY2012 Budget
  • Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative
  • OMB’s “25-Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management” (e.g. Cloud-First policy)
  • Sustainability

Q: What problems does cloud computing solve?

Mary: There are four primary ways that cloud computing is valuable:

  • Drives efficiency and acts as a lever for cost-cutting and improving service delivery to the U.S. taxpayer
  • Allows agencies to reduce IT capital and maintenance costs
  • Enables agencies to focus on mission
  • Reduces energy use and costs

Q: Who benefits from cloud computing?

Mary: All of us. Government agencies pay only for what they use, saving time and money. This model represents a fundamental shift from IT buyers to IT subscribers, shifting financials from capital investment to operational expense in a pay-as-you-go model.

Cloud computing services can help agencies achieve their mission goals:

  • Faster – decrease deployment or implementation time of IT solutions
  • Better – allows key resources to focus on mission-critical activities and on-demand and as-needed
  • Greener – reduces the government’s carbon footprint
  • Cheaper – saves money and helps to lower government operations’ cost while driving innovation across government by avoiding infrastructure duplication within and across agencies

Q: What are the lessons learned/advice/best practices that you can share?

Mary: We can learn a lot from industry and they can help GSA:

  • make cloud computing acquisitions easier, faster, better, greener, and more secure;
  • ensure cloud services are flexible and innovative even with the typical governmental constraints, and
  • bring fresh ideas for software, infrastructure, and platform-as-a-service offerings beyond what we are doing today.

GSA incorporated lessons learned from its own experience in acquiring cloud-based email into its upcoming EaaS BPA as well as input from a cross-agency email working group.

Project Contact Person/Media Spokespeople

  • Mary Davie, FAS/ITS
  • William Lewis, FAS/ITS

*Email: [email protected]

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