GSA wants to add cloud category to IT Schedule 70

Wednesday - 7/9/2014, 3:16pm EDT

The General Services Administration said Wednesday it's seeking to roll out a new category especially for cloud services under its massive IT Schedule 70 contracting vehicle.

Maynard Crum, acting director of the Office of Strategic Programs in GSA's Office of Integrated Technology Services, announced the agency's pursuit of a new special-item number for cloud — or cloud SIN — during a panel discussion at the Federal Cloud Computing Summit in Washington, D.C.

GSA officially posted the request-for-information to industry on FedBizOpps.gov Wednesday afternoon, saying the new category would help "increase visibility and access of cloud computing services to customer agencies," and would help "provide industry partners the opportunity to differentiate their cloud computing services from other IT related products and services."

Currently, cloud-computing services are sold through the Schedule 70 menu on a variety of different special-item numbers, making it difficult for agencies to peruse various cloud offerings and for GSA to track agency purchases and spending. The new cloud category aims to make it easier for agency IT and acquisition managers to browse cloud-only options and will also provide more clarity into how agencies are spending their contracting dollars on cloud services.

Subcategories in the new cloud SIN will include: software-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and "anything-as-a-service," the last of which describes any potential future cloud services that don't fit in with the three existing service models, according to the RFI.

GSA will take comments from industry on the cloud SIN proposal through August 6.

New category will make it easier to shop for cloud services

Crum said agencies have spent more than $800 million over the past two years on various cloud services, according to an analysis of Schedule 70 task orders.

"The problem is trying to identify what, exactly, was purchased, from what agency and what amounts — trying to get those particular statistics out — so that we can determine exactly what the customers are buying and not buying," Crum said.

GSA hopes the new Schedule 70 cloud category will make it easier for agencies, particularly smaller ones, to shop for cloud solutions. Right now, many of those smaller agencies "don't want to actually put their toes in the water because they're not really sure what to buy," Crum said.

Another trend GSA is seeing: Agencies are still thinking small when it comes to cloud migrations.

"You see what is being purchased is not large integrations of networks." Crum said. " It's email-as-a-service. It's some kind of infrastructure as a service. It's some products . And they call it cloud … because that's easy. " Agencies are also choosing smaller-scale cloud projects because of shrinking agency budgets. Up-front migration costs for a large-scale migration can be prohibitive.

"And budgets are getting smaller," Crum said. "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."

Despite the administration's high-profile push for agencies to adopt a "cloud first" policy when it comes to new IT deployments, which kicked off nearly four years ago, the concept hasn't yet matured at many agencies.

"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.

(Federal News Radio's Stephanie Wasko contributed to this report)

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