GSA to issue new solicitations for cloud

Friday - 4/23/2010, 7:07pm EDT

WFED's Jason Miller

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

Dave McClure wants to make it clear, the General Services Administration did receive multiple bids the last time they went out with their infrastructure-as-a-service request for quote.

The associate administrator of GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Communications says rumors that the reason the agency cancelled the solicitation in February is because they received no bids on the RFQ are untrue.

"There is no basis for this rumor," he says in an exclusive interview with Federal News Radio. "I can tell you it is false. I'm not in a position to tell you how many bids we received--as a practice we don't release that information-but we did receive multiple bidders on the original RFQ."

Vendor sources say GSA received bids from at least six companies, including Hewlett-Packard/EDS, Apptis, CSC and Terremark, Verizon, Lockheed Martin and Savvis.

McClure reiterated the reasons for GSA's decision: the market has matured and changed requiring the agency to relook at its strategy.

"Vendor engagement, vendor understanding and offerings matured quite a bit and the same thing occurred on the agency side," he says.

"Agencies are more knowledgeable and comfortable and differentiating in their approach to cloud solutions. We also saw opportunity to improve the RFQ based on our experience on running it. We learned some valuable lessons to go back and do it right and well."

With all these lessons learned, GSA plans on issue two new procurement documents in the coming weeks.

McClure says a new request for information for software-as-a-service is expected to be issued in the next week or so.

And in the next month or so, GSA expects to release a new RFQ for IaaS covering storage, virtualization and Web hosting.

"We are developing a new process and procedure to allow SaaS vendors to submit additional information that describes their offerings," he says.

"This is a new concept and we certainly are learning from it. One of the confusions was in SaaS was the mapping of those services to specific cloud categories. We want the schedule vendor to submit something that is accurate and we have opportunity to map to our categories the best as possible. A new RFI is being put together with new instructions and new outreach to industry."

GSA issued a RFI for SaaS twice last summer, once in June and again in August.

GSA still is working on the new IaaS RFQ. McClure says his office is getting comments from industry and federal chief information officers to ensure the solicitation meets both customers' needs.

"We met with 300 industry representatives from all kinds of vendors in the community and we have received tremendous input," he says. "We are in the midst of collecting comments from agency CIOs on their understanding and satisfaction with vehicle. As soon as feel like we have answered the questions and have the right pieces of place, we will launch it."

There are a few changes GSA knows it will make to the IaaS RFQ.

McClure says the cloud offerings will have to be more secure-meeting the moderate level under the National Institute of Standards and Technology Federal Information Processing Standard-199.

"We think that is where the public sector in general is heading and raising the offerings to the moderate level will be a significant improvement," he says. "I think it raises the potential usage to go outside of public facing sites and to go to some applications used by agencies. It also opens up the potential for use that is much greater than the low level does."

McClure says every awardee's offering will be certified and accredited through a centralized program, called Federal Risk and Authorization Management (FEDRamp).

"We also are making it much easier and clearer to map the industry offering to contracting line items in this blanket purchase vehicle," McClure says. "There was some confusion about whether specific services and prices for some of the industry offerings how they map to the contract line items in this BPA. We've gone back and cleaned that up and had conversations with industry on how that mapping process can work very effectively."

McClure says agencies are excited about the offerings. He says he hears from CIOs often wanting to move certain services to the cloud.

GSA does not have a target of awards.

"We want as many bids as we can and the more we get the better," McClure says. "The fact that we've cleared up the guidelines for industry to fill out proposals and submissions through schedule 70 and we've done a very robust outreach to agencies and customers, we are at a different place now and I expect a lot of interest."

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