October 25, 2010 By News Staff
U.S. government agencies will soon have access to cloud solutions from companies such as Verizon, AT&T and Amazon via the Apps.gov gateway, according to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).
Last week the GSA announced contracts with 11 companies to provide cloud-based infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to all levels of government. Under the five-year blanket purchase agreement, IaaS offerings available through Apps.gov will feature storage, virtualization and Web hosting solutions as part of an initiative to help agencies realize cost savings, efficiencies and modernization without burning up capital resources to expand existing infrastructure.
“Cloud computing services help to deliver on this administration’s commitment to provide better value for the American taxpayer by making government more efficient,” Federal CIO Vivek Kundra said in a statement. “Cloud solutions not only help to lower the cost of government operations, they also drive innovation across government.”
As the high costs of IT products and services have impacted infrastructure expansion for many governments, Apps.gov was launched last September to make procurements easier, faster and cheaper. The online storefront allows IT leaders to add software to a virtual shopping cart and buy it on the spot, which federal leaders claim makes it easier for agencies to fulfill current IT needs and demands.
Although some state and local technology agencies have expressed interest in the idea of buying cloud solutions through Apps.gov, many believe they often can negotiate better deals themselves with vendors than what the GSA offers.
In the past year, the federal government’s online procurement vehicle hit a few roadblocks. A few months after its initial launch, the original request for quotation (RFQ) became outdated. Because the cloud computing market evolved so fast, the GSA canceled its cloud computing RFQ in February and started over. The new contracts represent a shift, as the GSA aims to make cloud solutions more easily available to government agencies.
“Through offerings such as IaaS, GSA is providing government entities with easy access to cost-saving, high-value, more efficient technology solutions by doing a major part of the procurement processes upfront,” Dave McClure, GSA associate administrator of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, said in a release. “By continuously working with industry, GSA’s cloud-based services available through Apps.gov are secure, compliant and save taxpayer dollars by reducing duplication of security processes across government.”
According to the GSA, the services will include rapid elasticity for real-time, customizable scaling of service and automatic provisioning of virtual machines, storage, bandwidth and visibility into service usage and order management. Through on-demand self-service, government agencies will be able to utilize and discontinue use of the products as needed.
Before the services become officially available, vendors must complete the certification and accreditation process to make sure the security meets federal guidelines under the Federal Information Security Management Act.
Awarded vendors and their associated teams include:
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