California Expands CalCloud, Adds More Services and Vendors

The California Department of Technology is expanding its enterprise strategy for CalCloud and has renegotiated its infrastructure-as-a-service contract so that the rate structure is sharply reduced.

by Matt Williams, TechWire / August 10, 2015
At the CalCloud platform launch event in Sacramento, Calif., Government Operation Agency Undersecretary Tony Perez (pictured left) and IBM Fellow Kerrie Holley (pictured right) announced CalCloud, a new technology model powered by cloud computing to build and deliver more innovative government services and savings. Flickr/ibmphoto4

Big changes are ahead in the coming weeks for California’s private cloud.

The California Department of Technology is expanding its enterprise strategy for CalCloud and has renegotiated its infrastructure-as-a-service contract with IBM so that the rate structure is “sharply reduced,” Chief Deputy Director of Operations Chris Cruz said in an interview with TechWire.

The new strategy was prompted after listening to feedback from vendors and the state’s agency-level CIOs, and is aimed at giving companies the opportunity to compete for the state’s cloud business, Cruz explained.

To increase the vendor pool for cloud services, Cruz also said his department is actively working with the Department of General Services to utilize cloud-related procurement vehicles, such as the Software License Program.

The state intends to act as a broker of different cloud services offered by multiple cloud providers in areas such as platform as a service (PaaS) or software as a service (SaaS). The Department of Technology says that CalCloud has always been open to a variety of solutions from different vendors, but the process for onboarding vendors wasn’t clearly defined and communicated since the CalCloud service launched one year ago.

“We’ll have a menu, if you will — like when you go to a restaurant and order off the menu. There are lots of different services that we could provide, either directly or [through] broker services, that meet the needs of our constituents but are still secure,” said Cruz.

At an upcoming vendor event, the state plans to share more about its cloud strategy and the process vendors should follow to participate in CalCloud. Later this month, the Department of Technology will host a customer forum to reintroduce CalCloud’s enterprise strategy for CalCloud, announce the new rates and services, discuss the governance framework, and share CalCloud success stories.

“By all measures, the plans for CalCloud 2.0 sound like a win-win for everyone. The new approach will result in further adoption of cloud services by California agencies as well as cities and counties, it will reduce costs by lowering rates, and it will provide for increased flexibility,” said Carol Henton of the Information Technology Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS).

Introduced in July 2014, CalCloud is a partnership between California and IBM to provide cloud services such as computing, networking and storage from within the Office of Technology Services’ data center.

In the year since, the state has said it needs to grow CalCloud’s base of customers in order to achieve economy of scale through the contract’s volume-based price structure. Some companies and prospective CalCloud users have told TechWire that CalCloud’s rates haven’t been competitive with what’s available elsewhere on the market.

In response to those concerns, Cruz said the state’s contract has been renegotiated and the details and new rate structure will be made public in the next few weeks. He expects to see a spike in adoption thereafter.

“We’re definitely taking a different approach to CalCloud and ensuring we’re meeting our customers’ needs and have an enhanced level of security in place,” Cruz said.

The state is working on a subscription-based Security Event Management service that augments CalCloud security, Cruz added, with the goal of having CalCloud meet FedRAMP and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) requirements.

“That’s going to be huge for customers that have additional security requirements and our customer base to be able to come to CalCloud,” said Cruz.

During the past 12 months, some agencies and departments have inquired about using a cloud solution other than CalCloud; however, until now state officials have been reluctant to grant exceptions.

“I think that we’re open to looking at all of the options to do what’s in the best interest of our customer base, and recognizing what we have with CalCloud, and what works here and is a good fit. Where there may be better options for our customers to take advantage of, that’s in the best interests of the state, we’ll certainly look at that,” Cruz said.

This story originally appeared on TechWire.