Cloud and Data Center Consolidation – Bringing together the perfect couple

on February 13, 2013

NOTE: Mary Davie is serving as the Acting Commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). Her Deputy, Kevin Youel Page, has assumed the role of Acting Assistant Commissioner of the Integrated Technology Service (ITS) during this period.

As we move towards Cupid’s day, I thought it was appropriate to highlight the great work GSA is doing to nurture the budding relationship between Cloud Technology and Data Center Consolidation.

Over the past year, GSA partnered with 11 federal agencies to form an OMB sponsored working group–for a little couple’s therapy–to bridge the gap between the two. The team also engaged significant participation from numerous partners from our Alliant  GWAC industry group.

The goal of this working group was to develop five standardized Statement of Objective (SOO) templates for cloud migrations of applications and services modeled upon processes established by the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, with the objective of allowing agencies to “plug in” at any phase of the effort:  enterprise discovery, migration planning, migration, and responsible asset disposal.

By maximizing the power of these contract-agnostic SOOs for Cloud Migration Services, agencies can more easily and efficiently move legacy systems to the cloud and better plan for future development of new cloud applications and strategies.

This allows agencies to realize cost savings more quickly through increased acquisition efficiency, agility, and innovation.  It also decreases the time needed to retire duplicative or inefficient data centers.

As the federal government is navigating its way through the cloud, the effort to migrate services and applications to the cloud sometimes has felt like a rough first date. With cloud efforts taking place independently, the federal government has been missing significant opportunities to leverage best practices, and lessons learned. By bringing together federal cloud leaders and industry experts, we can work together to help solve these issues while saving time and reducing costs to the federal government.

Bringing these two initiatives closer together is a critical step towards a sustainable government. It allows agency CIOs to save money and focus on mission-enhancing technologies by shifting IT investments to more efficient computing platforms, accelerating data center consolidation, and clearly aligning data center consolidation with cloud computing.

Just like Cupid’s bow, our goal is to help government realize that we are better together than apart.

I encourage anyone preparing a cloud acquisition to make use of these documents as well as the programs and expertise GSA has to offer. If you have any questions about these documents or acquiring cloud, feel free to comment below or reach out to our cloud team at

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The Twelve Facts of HSPD-12

on January 3, 2013

Physical and Cybersecurity are more critical than ever.  Identity management is an important part of securing our government facilities and data.

Identity management is addressed through HSPD-12, and we are often told how complex, expensive, and difficult to implement Personal Identity Verification (PIV) credentialing solutions.

Periodically stories emerge, often from agencies in the throes of implementing HSPD-12 or OMB Memorandum 11-11, that FAS’s PIV card offering is either too expensive or not flexible enough to meet the agency’s needs.

GSA’s USAccess Managed Service offering is over 5 years old. It’s time to take stock of some facts.

In the spirit of the season, I present “The Twelve Facts of HSPD-12”:

    1. GSA serves all of government: GSA has 99 customer agencies participating.
    2. No agency is too big or too small: These agencies range from 3 to 115,000 cardholders.
    3. No agency is too complex: We have experience in deployment and onboarding processes across complex agency structures, geographically diverse locations, and widely different operating environments.
    4. We have the experience: USAccess has completed credential issuance for over 800,000 Personal Identification Verification Cards.
    5. We offer breadth of service: USAccess offers a full range of services needed to support the PIV lifecycle, including certificate re-key, credential reissuance, and renewal.
    6. We value transparency: The cost of cards can easily be calculated at
    7. We calculate total cost of ownership: The website not only contains cost figured for basic enrollment and maintenance, but also enrollment station infrastructure costs that can be matched to an agency’s need.
    8. We are affordable: Total annualized program costs for agency
      customers (including all PIV issuance infrastructure, system development, card issuance, and lifecycle maintenance from the GSA USAccess team) are under $40 per card holder.
    9. We offer a Shared Service: Individual agencies can save further and get “Shared First” credit with OMB by sharing the enrollment infrastructure with other agencies.
    10. We continue to compare prices: GSA continues to do research regarding deployment and startup costs for agencies and has never found an individual agency with a lower cost to deploy and operate.
    11. We save the government money: Most agencies pay between 4 and 9 times more doing this themselves!
    12. We encourage others to share information: The next time you hear “I can do it cheaper myself!” please engage us in dialogue that may help us improve our services and the services we offer to the federal government.

While I don’t think this would do very well as a holiday song, I hope it clarifies some common misconceptions of our HSPD-12 program. If you have any questions about our HSPD-12 or any other identity, credentialing, or access management offering, please visit for more information. From all of us here in ITS, I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year.

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Five guiding principles for FY13

on November 28, 2012

NOTE: Mary Davie is serving as the Acting Commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). Her Deputy, Kevin Youel Page, has assumed the role of Acting Assistant Commissioner of the Integrated Technology Service (ITS) during this period.

Recently, I participated in a discussion with other federal government leaders to explore new and exciting IT solutions during GSA’s Network Services 2020 (NS2020) roundtable. It was the agency’s second roundtable, this time with CIOs, CAOs, and deputies throughout the federal government. Our goal was simple: Create a list of priorities for a future network services portfolio. The discussion gave us guiding principles for the NS2020 Strategy. Some apply beyond IT, to any government acquisition.

GSA shares initial lessons learned

We shared findings from GSA’s top-down review of previous and current telecommunications contracts, including FTS2001 and Networx. We reached out to over 100 stakeholders, performed market trend and data analysis, and held one-on-one meetings.

Our past outreach shows that GSA needs to match portfolio structure to agency buying patterns, as well as to industry market segments. Agencies value the more than $700M in savings achieved by Networx in FY12. We must continue to achieve greater savings through strategic sourcing to keep us in line with the September 20 GAO report that concludes government should do more strategic sourcing.

Here are the top 5 ideas:

1. Deeper government partnerships. Agencies want a spectrum of offerings ranging from complete solutions and managed services to commodity building blocks, with which to build their own solutions. They see value in GSA providing a portfolio of services based upon affinity clusters of services. Contract options brought to the table by other agencies also may be part of the mix.

2. Government and industry success. The more government makes our buys look like big corporate buys, the better we can tie into the market and existing industry capability. This means agency commitment, aggregated common requirements, and price visibility. There are benefits to aligning our portfolio with how industry works, and we need industry to weigh in and work with GSA to achieve this compatibility. Aligning offerings with industry practice and good industry partner communications will reduce transaction costs and benefit all. We discussed how to make incentives, instead of penalties, tied to contractor success, which could improve service to users and build upon the win-win.

3. Expand scope and delivery methods. We discussed the need and value of acquisition and operational efficiency. In developing this portfolio, GSA and agencies are looking broadly at how we aggregate requirements. A framework to weave related services and elements in an efficient way might include Software as a Service (SaaS), mobile applications, and other options. Some agencies are looking for turn-key solutions that offer hands-off management. Agencies are also looking for aggregated service and lower infrastructure costs through identifying common needs.

4. Continue commitment to innovation. We must continue to offer options to support continuous and convenient access to industry partner innovations. Looking at how we refresh technology and pricing could give us steady improvements with fewer heavy lifts. Many times, we can add innovation without developing new acquisitions.

5. Increase transition support and more. GSA can provide tailored customer support throughout the acquisition life cycle, including assistance with acquisition, fair opportunity, and transition processes. The systems and processes we have in place for consolidated and centralized billing have provided operational efficiencies. Enhancing these systems will further drive down government and industry operating costs.

Our current program provides more than $1.8B of networking services to federal agencies. We continue to enhance our existing portfolio as we plan for the future. We came away from the Roundtable with a plan of action. An NS2020 Interagency Advisory Panel will guide the strategy work for NS2020 and bring the strategy to the Federal CIO Council. Our joint commitment will turn shared priorities into real-world improvements.

Please share comments or additional priorities in the comments section below or follow us on twitter @GSA_ITS to join the conversation.


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Email as a Service: A Clear Vision into a Cloudy Future

on October 3, 2012

NOTE: Mary Davie is serving as the Acting Commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). Her Deputy, Kevin Youel Page, has assumed the role of Acting Assistant Commissioner of the Integrated Technology Service (ITS) during this period.

GSA’s mission is to help save the government time and money, and as acting assistant commissioner of ITS, I take that to heart.  There’s been a lot of talk recently about what GSA is or isn’t doing to help government IT move to the cloud so I thought I’d weigh in.  Helping government move to the cloud is a priority for GSA. Cloud has the ability to transform the way agencies do their work by making them more agile, effective, and efficient. At the end of 2010, OMB tapped GSA to help lead the way in introducing cloud systems to the federal government. The key was understanding how government could take advantage of the cloud’s transformative power.

Along the way, there have been growing pains for both government and industry; however, the transition to cloud is already saving agencies time and money because of GSA’s ongoing efforts to be innovative, collaborative and creative.

Creating comprehensive solutions

We strive to deliver best value and have been working closely with government and industry to create a comprehensive cloud solutions portfolio for use by government agencies looking to save millions of taxpayer dollars typically spent on IT programs. Since 2009, our solutions enabling the acquisition of cloud include governmentwide acquisition vehicles (GWACs), Networx and Schedule 70. Over the past two years, agencies have purchased approximately $175 million in cloud services using our Alliant contract.

Last month GSA announced the availability of our cloud email solution, the Email as a Service (EaaS) BPA, which will allow agencies to order pre-approved cloud- based tools for email, office automation, and electronic records management, as well as the migration and integration services necessary for a swift transition leading to rapid savings. The BPA offers recurring purchasing options at a reduced cost that is also convenient and efficient.

Cloud based email services support the Obama Administration’s mandates and initiatives to bring cloud services into the federal government and reduce the number of federal data centers, which save taxpayer dollars. We estimate that agencies will save 50 percent, about $1 million, annually for every 7,500 users migrated. Last year GSA was the first federal agency to make the move to the cloud using our Alliant GWAC to migrate 17,000 email accounts, saving $2 million to date, with an estimated savings of $15 million over five years.

What makes EaaS even more exciting is that it will leverage GSA’s innovative security program, Federal Risk Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), which uses a “do once, use many times” approach to save agencies time and money by providing a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring. This process allows agencies to avoid the need to conduct its own security assessment, which can cost more than $100,000 and take up to nine months. This could potentially result in $10 million in savings across the government.

Recognizing Innovation

With all the great things GSA is doing, there is still more work to do. I have echoed the challenge of our administrator: when you think you’ve thought big, think bigger. Our cloud team responded by releasing a Cloud Brokerage RFI in August.  This RFI will allow us to pool government and industry’s collective knowledge around cloud acquisition to formulate future innovative and cost-effective solutions.

Cloud Brokerage and our EaaS BPA are already receiving accolades. In fact, the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) gave GSA’s collaborative approach to solving the cloud challenge its innovative thinking in government recognition three weeks in a row.

Cloud Migration represents a major shift in the way government conducts business, which means that our acquisition models must continue to evolve. There is a long road ahead, and GSA will be there to support our customers. Our cloud portfolio and efforts to facilitate government-wide cloud migration continues to show that GSA focuses on its core efforts of promoting efficiency, delivering better value, and saving taxpayer dollars.

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Thinking Bigger

on August 21, 2012

NOTE: Mary Davie is serving as the Acting Commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) for 60 days effective July 30, 2012. Her Deputy, Kevin Youel Page, has assumed the role of Acting Assistant Commissioner of the Integrated Technology Service (ITS) during this period.

This is my first blog post, so I will start with a brief introduction. I am Kevin Youel Page and it is a great honor to serve as the Acting Assistant Commissioner in Mary’s absence. Like all of us here at ITS, I believe in a great government through technology.

Prior to joining ITS, I spent time as a GSA customer as well as in industry with large and small companies. In my new role, I remain steadfastly committed to saving agencies time and money, while serving as a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. If we keep the ideals of speed to savings and innovation in service of customer missions as our north star, we will be achieving our mission.

Federal IT has reached an exciting juncture as we search for new ways to take agencies to the cloud. OMB’s IT 25 Point Reform Plan and Cloud First Policy represented a turning point as agencies began to realize that the cloud could save them significant time and money. GSA has been working with agencies to realize those savings by

  • streamlining the acquisition process through new vehicles like the IaaS BPA and our longstanding GWACs,
  • establishing standardized cloud security through FedRAMP, and
  • sharing our own best practices through providing sample Statements-of-Objectives and Statements-of-Work.

Despite all of the great work that we’ve done to date, there is still more that we can do. We must continue to challenge ourselves to be innovative and to explore new acquisition models. As our acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini recently said, “Just when you think you’ve thought big, think bigger.”

We took Dan’s words to heart and submitted a Request for Information (RFI) to gather industry feedback on the concept of a cloud broker. A cloud broker is an entity that manages the use, performance, and delivery of cloud services, while negotiating relationships between cloud providers and consumers. The RFI positions us to collaborate with industry leaders in creating a cloud strategy that could enable agencies to increase asset utilization and lower IT infrastructure costs.

Following the RFI release, we hosted a Cloud Brokerage Industry Day to answer questions and listen to what people had to say. Thought leaders in federal cloud computing like Keith Trippie, the Executive Director of Enterprise System Development Office in the Department of Homeland Security, and Katie Lewin, GSA’s Cloud Computing Program Director at the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technology, led a moderated Q&A discussion with over 160 participants. The RFI, presentations, and Q&A responses can be found on our Cloud webpage. Due to the enormous interest displayed and volume of feedback received, we have extended the deadline to respond to the RFI to September 7.

This was an exciting event because cloud migration represents a major change in the way that government does business, which means that our acquisition model must continue to evolve to respond to the shift. It will not be simple or easy, but GSA remains committed to paving the way to help agencies find innovative and cost-effective acquisition solutions, and I ask industry to join us in accepting this challenge. We are excited to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Please help us continue this conversation by joining my colleague Mark Day, Director of Strategic Programs at ITS, and a major contributor to the Cloud Brokerage model, for a Twitter Chat on August 28, 2012, from 2:30 – 3:30 pm EDT by following us @GSA_ITS.

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