This week in the cloud

August 18, 2011

Two big stories this week in the cloud computing arena being covered by Federal News Radio.

Two firms protest GSA’s email cloud RFP

The General Services Administration’s $2.5 billion email-as-a-service contract is under protest. The two vendors filing the pre-solicitation protests said GSA’s requirement to have a government-only cloud is a “restrictive specification” and therefore not allowed under federal acquisition rules. Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller reports GSA is continuing to evaluate offers while it waits for a decision by the Government Accountability Office, which is expected by Oct. 17.

Army cloud email a ‘pathfinder’ to enterprise services

After being on hold for the past month, the Army on Tuesday resumed the migration of its 1.4 million email users around the world to the cloud. Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu reports, Army leaders are now aiming to have the entire migration completed by March of next year. The Army sees this as its starting point for greater use of the cloud. Once the email migration is complete, Mike Krieger, the Army’s deputy chief information officer, said his agency plans a new wave of enterprise services enabled by a more unified network, including collaboration tools in the cloud.

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DoD, HUD, Interior ramp up cloud usage

July 13, 2011

Agencies across the federal government are increasing their use of the cloud. Over the past week, Federal News Radio has covered several agencies moving in that direction including Defense, Interior, and Housing and Urban Development.

The Defense Contract Management Agency told Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller moving to zero client computers is one of its top priorities. Jacob Haynes, DCMA’s chief information officer, said it’s the next step beyond thin client computers.

“A zero client device is the size of a small book and it sits on the desk and you plug all peripherals in to it, instead of having a hard drive or CD-ROM drive, all the things that forces mass in regular computers is done in the cloud,” he said. “That includes the storage, the computing power and anything else. The device is just there messaging.”

At the same time, the Interior Department announced its plans to transform its IT infrastructure. Interior says the four-year project will save $500 million from 2016-2020. Part of those money-saving efforts come in the form of cloud utilization, according to a separate report from Miller.

“We currently manage 13 stand-alone email systems at DOI, a result of the dispersed nature of the agency and a legacy of piecemeal development of IT at the bureau level,” agency CIO Bernard Mazer wrote in a CIO.gov blog. “We are in the process of consolidating these systems into a unified, cloud-based email service that will support 85,000 users across DOI. DOI.gov will also be moving to a cloud platform in order to better accommodate the five-million visitors per year who use the site. Of course, both of these initiatives will lead to cost savings, but the cloud also promises better service, such as guaranteed 99.9 percent uptime for both projects.”

After outsourcing much of its network infrastructure, HUD says it now wants to put it in the cloud.

“What is not there in a managed services contract is the business model of cloud. We do not have the elasticity. Prices do not go down when we use less,” Chief Technology Officer Mark Day said at a recent conference. “Managed services is what you might consider the high water mark price. If we ever bought that much of the infrastructure, we pay for that much of the infrastructure. In a cloud, you go up and down as your needs change. That is really what we are doing. It’s not a technical move for us. It’s a business model move in the procurement realm.”


GSA’s cloud services RFP released

May 10, 2011

The Fed Cloud Blog told you it was coming. Now, the General Services Administration has officially released its request for quotation for e-mail, office automation and electronic records management cloud services.

Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller reports the cloud contract has a ceiling of $2.5 billion over five years.

The important dates to remember? Vendors must submit bids by June 19 through the EBuy system. Questions about the RFQ should be submitted by May 20.

“Email-as-a-service is about amplifying the use of cloud computing,” said GSA Administrator Martha Johnson last week during TechAmerica’s CIO Survey conference. “Agencies will be billed for services based on the number of mail boxes used. Cloud providers maintain the infrastructure. The return on investment comes in less than two years.”

Cloud computing has become a major IT initiative in the Obama administration. Federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra says there are $20 billion in systems across the government that could move to the cloud.


DoD’s cloud e-mail plot thickens

May 5, 2011

Just how many Defense Department employees will eventually be using a cloud-based e-mail service depends who you ask.

Maj. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, the Defense Information Systems Agency’s vice director, told reporters Tuesday, selling the Navy and Air Force on its cloud-based email system is a matter of when, not if. However, Hawkins admits, “If you talk to the services, it’s if. We’re in those negotiations with all of them right now. The ‘ifs’ are contingent on the pricing and the delivery of the capability.”

Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu reports all eyes are on the Army’s transition to the DISA cloud, and decisions by the other agencies will likely be made based on the success or failure of the Army’s move.

So far, the Army has transferred 20,000 of its 900,000 users to the cloud. Army chief information officer Mike Krieger says the Army is stepping up its transition timeline and, with the help of a new tool, will transition approximately 1,000 users a night into the new DISA system.

However, the Army’s migration to the DISA cloud was dealt a potential setback by Congress (also on Tuesday).

The House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee cut funding for the Army’s email project in its markup of the 2012 budget by 98 percent until a business case analysis of the program can be completed.

The bill must still pass the full House and Senate to become law.

RELATED STORIES:

Enterprise email could pave way for single DoD sign-on

DoD to set new path for IT acquisition


GSA’s email cloud contract could be worth $2.5 billion

April 28, 2011

Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra expects the General Services Administration to issue a solicitation by May 10 for a $2.5 billion contract for email-as-a-service. It’s part of how the administration wants agencies to move to cloud computing, Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller reports.

Kundra said Wednesday there are $20 billion in systems across the government that could move to the cloud, and email and collaboration software are among the easiest first steps.

“We already are seeing 15 agencies that have identified 950,000 e-mail boxes across 100 email systems that are going to move to the cloud,” he said during an update on the administration’s 25-point IT reform plan at the White House. “This represents a huge opportunity for [vendors] to aggressively compete for these new opportunities in the cloud space and provide the government with the best value and most innovative technologies.”

Miller reports GSA has been working on the email-as-a-service RFQ since last summer. It likely will be a blanket purchase agreement, similar to the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) contract GSA awarded to 11 vendors last October.

Read Jason’s full story on this topic by clicking the link above.


Latest cloud news from Federal News Radio

March 26, 2011

Federal News Radio spoke with the FBI and the Army about their various uses of cloud this week. Listen to the interviews by clicking the links below.

Part 2: Fulgham says secure mobility will change the FBI

In a two-part interview with agency chief information officer Chad Fulgham, Federal News Radio talks about the various ways the FBI is currently using the cloud. Fulgham says he’s a big fan of federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s ideas for cloud and data center consolidation. He explains where the agency might go next in the cloud.

For Army, network tops modernization priorities

New Army CIO Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence says her organization’s migration to the cloud is going well. So well, in fact, the Army intends to migrate more people into a cloud email system, including the Department of the Army headquarters. Lawrence said she’ll be looking for help and advice from industry to make these migrations as easy as possible.


NEH CIO looking for cloud opportunities

February 26, 2011

The National Endowment for the Humanities doesn’t use cloud computing outside of a test environment currently but Brett Bobley, the agency’s chief information officer, is looking to change that.

He tells Federal News Radio one of his main priorities is pinpointing areas where the agency can use cloud computing to increase efficiency and save money.

Bobley says he thinks using the cloud for web hosting is a “no brainer.” He also thinks it’s smart to move email to the cloud.

“One of the nice things about email…not only can it save you money, it’s an excellent continuity of operations tool.”

But like many other agencies that are wading into the cloud pool, Bobley says security is a concern for him.

“We want to be very smart about moving into the cloud. As you can imagine, there are a lot of cloud vendors out there but only a few of them are getting FISMA compliant and are really accustomed to working with the government and the particular needs of the government. On the one hand, we recognize the value of the cloud and we’re very into the planning and testing process on this so we can move in smartly but, again, we want to make sure we do it right so we get a system that is as reliable, if not more reliable, than the one we have now.”

Listen to Federal News Radio’s complete interview with Bobley here.