US Gov Looking for Further Cloud Migration

Maynard Crum of the GSA (General Services Administration), announced the agency’s pursuit of a new cloud category for the IT Schedule 70, during a panel discussion at the Federal Cloud Computing Summit in Washington, D.C.

Crum is the acting director who oversees the Center for Government wide Acquisition Contracts’ programs as well as the Center for Strategic Solutions and Security Services at the GSA.

This is a move to further the ongoing efforts towards the Government’s ‘Cloud First’ initiative. The initiative issued back in 2010 by President Obama, with the intent for the cloud to be used in the US Government. It gave different branches of government a new set of guidelines with which to select new services, with the preference being for services in the cloud. This is with the goal of saving costs, maximizing capacity utilization, and improving IT flexibility and responsiveness.

The reasoning behind the new cloud specific category in the IT Schedule is that the industry of cloud computing services has grown to a point that an opportunity has arisen for specific, pre-screened services to be offered through a single SIN, as opposed to the 70 Sin’s being used today.

The GSA officially posted the request-for-information to industry leaders on yesterday afternoon, which explains this in greater detail, “It has been working with the FAS ITS Cloud Computing Services (CCS) Program Management Office (PMO) to develop a proposal to create a single Cloud Computing Services Special Item Number (SIN) to consolidate and simplify the way that cloud computing is offered on the IT Schedule 70 program. The purpose of this change would be to improve the way that GSA offers cloud computing services through IT Schedule 70, increase visibility and access of cloud computing services to customer agencies, and to provide industry partners the opportunity to differentiate their cloud computing services from other IT related products and services.”

The request for information is to gage the possible reception of the change and to gain industry feedback as well as to gather more information about how cloud computing services are currently being sold on IT Schedule 70

“Even though we’ve been at this for several years now, it seems that agencies are still kind of at an infant stage of trying to learn, exactly, what does cloud really mean? And what does it mean to me?” Crum said, “The problem is trying to identify what, exactly, was purchased, from what agency and what amounts…so that we can determine exactly what the customers are buying and not buying,”

Though the ‘Cloud First’ policy has existed for a four years now, the GSA has still found a number of agencies that have been slow to adopt the cloud. One of the main hindrances is lack of funds. Agencies have been found to be ‘cloud-washing’, using cheaper cloud related services to qualify, rather than engage in a full migration that can be quite expensive.  There have also been some legislative issues that have hindered progress.

Crum said “You see what is being purchased is not large integrations of networks… It’s email-as-a-service. It’s some kind of infrastructure as a service. It’s some product. And they call it cloud.” He continued “And budgets are getting smaller. So, how do you go and do a big integration to the cloud and your network and data-center consolidations? It’s a big task.”