DHS to take public websites to the cloud

Tuesday - 5/17/2011, 2:53pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

HOT SPRINGS, VA. - The Homeland Security Department plans on releasing the first task order under the infrastructure-as-a-service blanket purchase agreement.

DHS issued a draft request for quotation May 12 and plans on issuing the final RFQ by May 20. The agency expects bids to be due by May 26, the draft RFQ states.

DHS wants to move its public websites to a public cloud, said Richard Spires, the agency's chief information officer during a panel discussion at the Management of Change conference.

"The primary purpose of this acquisition is to establish the consolidated and integrated web service delivery capability for development/test, staging/pre-production and production platform that will streamline the migration, implementation and support of current and future DHS public-facing websites to the public cloud," the draft RFQ states. "In addition, this includes all work associated with Web hosting, virtual machines, storage and migration as well as application services to support DHS public websites."

The task order would be for one year base with two one-year options.

"We also are embarking upon a public cloud strategy," Spires said. "We're starting or putting our toe in the water. As we get more experience with that, as FedRAMP comes online…as the security issues get worked out, I think you will see a much more aggressive shift by a number of agencies and I think even DHS will be in this where we will start to move more and more of our stuff to the public cloud as long as we are comfortable with the security."

Spires added the goal is to have a competitive environment where several service provides are available for agencies to choose from.

GSA awarded 12 companies a spot on the infrastructure-as-a-service contract last October. But agencies have been waiting for the vendors to meet the cybersecurity requirements to provide infrastructure-as-a-service.

GSA expects to issue the 12 providers the authority-to-operate (ATO) later this summer. The providers still will have to go through the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) to receive governmentwide authorization. But GSA says its ATO process will meet more than 90 percent of all FedRAMP requirements.

DHS wrote in the draft RFQ that ATO and the FedRAMP are key to the award.

"In addition to the GSA ATO, the FedRAMP joint authorization board ATO will be required within 120 days of its availability," the RFQ states.

Under the RFQ, Spires said DHS will start by moving the public facing websites for FEMA and the Citizen and Immigration Service (CIS) to the public cloud. He said the other DHS component sites will follow after FEMA and CIS prove the public cloud works.

"At present the current production capacity for DHS component websites are fragmented across multiple platforms and providers," the RFQ states. "The development environment is similarly fragmented as well. Therefore, there is little opportunity to leverage synergies including data sharing, downloading, access and cross platform integration."

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