GSA picks Unisys to provide e-mail-as-a-service

Wednesday - 12/1/2010, 4:45pm EST

WFED's Jason Miller on the DorobekINSIDER

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The General Services Administration awarded Unisys a contract to provide e-mail-as-a-service through the cloud.

GSA confirmed it has hired Unisys under a one-year base contract with four one-year options. The contract is worth $3.6 million in the first year and $760,000 each year afterward.

Industry sources say GSA received five bids through the Alliant governmentwide acquisition contract.

Unisys has partnered with Google, Tempus Nova, and Acumen Solutions under the $6.7 million deal.

GSA expects the new e-mail system will result in a 50 percent savings over the next five years when compared to current staff, infrastructure and contract support costs.

"GSA's cloud e-mail award is in step with the administration's cloud-first strategy and demonstrates that agile, secure, reliable, and cost effective cloud options exist to rapidly improve agency operations and services," said Dave McClure, GSA associate administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

Among the unsuccessful bidders were CSC and Accenture, which bid with Microsoft, industry sources say.

Microsoft's Curt Kolcun, vice president of U.S. Public Sector, said the software giant was disappointed by GSA's decision to go with Unisys and Google.

"Industry competition drives innovation and is good for government agencies," Kolcun said. "Our Business Productivity Online Suite-federal proposal was a conscious decision to provide GSA with U.S.-only datacenter support, where data is maintained in the U.S., administered by U.S. citizens with background checks, in accordance with ITAR standards in a FISMA-certified environment. This offering meets the most stringent requirements of governments and we are working with several agencies who see this as essential."

GSA issued the request for proposals in June and was expected to make an award by late summer, but ended up delaying it until today.

Unisys will have to provide 39 mandatory and 14 optional services to transition, deploy, operate, maintain and secure enterprise-wide e-mail and collaboration in the cloud. Among the mandatory services GSA asked for from vendors were to include systemwide security that meets the National Institute of Standards and Technology's moderate level, identity management to GSA's Active Directory database and e-discovery.

Unisys will replace GSA's existing system that includes several different versions of IBM's Lotus Notes and Domino software.

GSA said it has 15,500 individual accounts, 9,300 of which are accessed through Blackberry PDAs. GSA estimates the number of accounts to grow to 30,000 over the life of the contract.

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