Think Cloud, Think GSA

Posted by Laura Stanton
on July 12, 2021
Think Cloud, Think GSA FAST 2021 promo image - event July 15

We know you use cloud computing for more than just migration and storage. Some agencies need a trusted consultant to plan long-term strategy. Others are ready to build their own applications and deploy next-generation technology. GSA cloud experts want to alleviate your acquisition pain and answer your questions directly. To that end, the Information Technology Category and 3 other GSA offices are offering a guided tour of GSA’s cloud portfolio at our “Think Cloud, Think GSA” event from 1-3 PM Eastern on Thursday, July 15.

Our cloud experts will:

  • Answer your cloud technical and acquisition questions
  • Explore GSA cloud products and services offered by multiple GSA offices
  • Explain the buying options available to help agencies move through their cloud adoption journey.

Here are a few session teasers:

The Technology Transformation Services’ (TTS) Cloud Center of Excellence helps your agency innovate with embedded, on hand expertise. Understand how the Cloud Center of Excellence empowers agencies to undertake IT modernization and how their acquisition, security and technology teams are used as an engine of organizational change.

The Information Technology Category’s (ITC) Cloud Acquisition Team gives those agencies that know what cloud products and services they want the information needed to acquire them. Hear about the Cloud Information Center, the pre-competed Multiple Award Schedule Cloud SIN, and more.

The Technology Transformation Services’ (TTS) Cloud.gov supports government agencies in getting to the cloud quickly, securely, and in a compliant manner. Three Cloud.gov experts will cover how their Platform-as-a-Service offering fits any step of a customer’s journey to the cloud, and how they are just a simple InterAgency Agreement away.

The Assisted Acquisition Services’ (AAS) FedSIM office works with mature organizations that have complex acquisition needs. Hear from the director Chris Hamm on how this white glove services span acquisition, financial, and project management for the full acquisition life cycle.

Think Cloud, Think GSA event promo image

Sonny Hashmi, GSA Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner, will give an opening keynote about how cloud policy and technology has progressed over the past decade. Sam Navarro, Director of the Customer Strategic Solutions Division, will act as Master of Ceremonies.

This event is open to government and industry. Participants are eligible to earn 2 Continuous Learning Points (CLPs). Registration is free and open to all.

Register and reserve your virtual seat today.

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Cloud Empowerment at USAID: A 10-Year Success Story

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on October 3, 2019

When it comes to information technology modernization efforts, agencies have to develop holistic strategies that match their evolving needs without compromising their ability to carry out their mission. The U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) mission is to help others, but when it came to technological transformation, USAID had to start by helping itself.

Let’s take a look at how USAID became the vanguard for smart cloud adoption in support of a complex, global mission.

A Legacy of Innovation

For nearly a decade, USAID has strategically deployed cloud technology to enable and scale its operations both at home and abroad. Working in some of the more challenging locations around the world, USAID often operates in low network connectivity bandwidth environments that present their own unique security vulnerabilities.

To operate in these harsh operational conditions, USAID adopted cloud technology early. In 2010 they moved to cloud-based email, messaging, and collaboration tools. In 2012, USAID completed nearly all of the goals of the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) when it consolidated to a single enterprise data center.

Data Consolidated, Optimized, and Secured

Most recently in 2018, USAID successfully migrated the enterprise data center to a hybrid cloud solution with full disaster recovery capability. The new USAID Enterprise Data Center/Disaster Recovery (EDC/DR) solution provides government Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as well as redundancy for USAID’s network and business-critical systems.

USAID can now use more modern technology like scalable, on-demand resources; no restrictions for memory, processing, and storage; and the ability to restore data in several hours versus days or weeks. Using tagging in the cloud environments will enhance USAID’s ability to comply with the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) and Technology Business Management reporting requirements. Finally, the cloud solution is FedRAMP-authorized, ensuring the new infrastructure services meet rigorous security standards.

Working with GSA

USAID used IT Schedule 70 for its EDC/DR infrastructure acquisition.

USAID sought to acquire public and government IaaS as standardized, highly automated infrastructure services owned by cloud service providers (CSPs) and offered to USAID on demand.

Before the award, the USAID engineering team performed an analysis of alternatives (AoA) backed by thorough market research. The AoA recommended a hybrid cloud solution to meet USAID’s EDC/DR requirements.

A high-level design that could connect to both public and government IaaS CSP was proposed in the AoA by the engineering team. It suggested two co-locations on opposite ends of the country to ensure operational and geophysical redundancy. A RFQ (Request for Quote) guided by the AoA and EDC/DR requirements was released for competition. The acquisition was structured so that the co-location IaaS solution was purchased as a commodity owned by the CSP. In this modern virtual data center, USAID leverages high availability system components as a Disaster Recovery solution without additional costs.

Solution Acquired, Results Analyzed

The result is a fully scalable virtual data center, with dynamic policy-driven services and improved performance. All of this comes at a 30% lower cost for operations and maintenance.

With cloud, USAID now can use multiple data centers’ hosting systems, services, applications, and storage without relying on any particular geographic location.

This is critical given that USAID leads the U.S. government’s international development and disaster assistance work in over 80 countries around the globe. These efficiency gains have enabled reinvestment in more advanced and innovative technologies. USAID has matured to being 100% cloud-enabled, using all service models. With no legacy systems to support, the agency can move to new, modern solutions in a much more agile fashion than other federal departments that are weighed down by aging systems and infrastructure.

What Does Your Mission Require?

As a facilitator of USAID’s cloud accomplishments, GSA is here to help your agency use the cloud to achieve its long-term mission and strategic goals. This includes aligning with federal mandates like the new CloudSmart Strategy and leveraging government-wide tools to modernize your IT infrastructure.

To help discover ways that GSA can enable your agency’s mission through cloud, contact cloudinfo@gsa.gov, visit our Cloud Information Center at gsa.gov/cic, or use our IT Solutions Navigator to find the vehicle that’s right for you.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Expanding IT Schedule 70’s Cloud SIN to Make it Easier for Customers & Contractors

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on February 19, 2019

The 2018 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy — Cloud Smart — is a long-term, high-level strategy to drive cloud adoption in federal agencies. This cloud policy is designed to offer a path forward for agencies to migrate to a safe and secure cloud-based infrastructure. This new strategy will help federal agencies achieve additional cost savings, increase security, and facilitate faster delivery of cloud services.

GSA is a key stakeholder in the Cloud Smart strategy. We’re helping federal agencies modernize the government’s IT infrastructure by using our expertise in technology and acquisition. As part of that mission, we’re listening to industry partners and our customer agencies and constantly revisiting our acquisition solutions. We’re looking to ensure they’re working to facilitate the government’s success and that they make it easier for agencies and industry.

When it comes to cloud, we are dedicated to providing acquisition tools and solutions that help the government make meaningful strides in cloud adoption to support their mission-critical activities and meet the goals laid out in the Cloud Smart strategy.

When You Think Cloud, Think GSA

Adopting cloud and modernizing IT infrastructure are complex. GSA has several cloud offerings designed with the customer in mind. We’re working to provide solutions that address the typical challenges agencies are facing, and GSA is here to help agencies be successful.

One example is IT Schedule 70’s Cloud SIN (132-40), originally developed and implemented in 2015. Since then, a lot has changed in both the cloud industry and in government. We have seen an increased demand for cloud computing, and the market has evolved to include professional services that support cloud-oriented products. The evolution has exposed some acquisition challenges and roadblocks in the original SIN.  

Originally, customers using IT70 to buy cloud products also needed to procure cloud-related IT professional services. This had to happen through a second step, often requiring them to issue Requests for Quotes (RFQs) to the entire universe of IT services contractors on IT70 (over 3,500), and many of those contractors may not have any of the appropriate skills to support cloud deployments.

Now, the expanded IT70 Cloud SIN includes the cloud-oriented IT professional services that customers need, providing them access to a full cloud solution in one place. Additionally, we have clarified a few ambiguities about the definition of cloud products that frequently caused confusion.

GSA’s goal is to ensure we are supporting the government’s adoption of, migration to, and ongoing governance and management of cloud computing.

The Cloud SIN revisions are available in the most current solicitation refresh: Solicitation Number: FCIS-JB-980001-B.

Contact GSA To Get Started

Contact the GSA cloud experts with any questions about the GSA IT Schedule 70 Cloud SIN. We help agencies navigate the Cloud SIN to acquire cloud services, including providing free scope reviews of solicitations. We also help industry suppliers with the application process to have their cloud offerings indexed under the Cloud SIN.

To learn more, visit our Cloud SIN page.

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IT Services: Driving Mission Delivery of IT Capabilities, Customer Engagement

Posted by Mary Davie
on March 20, 2017

(Note: This is a guest blog post by Casey Kelley, acting director for the Office of IT Services within ITC, General Services Administration’s (GSA) Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). As the acting director, Kelley is responsible for a $14+ billion portfolio of contracts that provide federal, state, local, and tribal government agencies with a diverse set of information technology solutions.)

The FAS IT Services portfolio team played a significant role in driving mission delivery of IT capabilities across government during fiscal year (FY) 2016. By providing expertise and procurement support through customer engagement, governmentwide contract vehicles and Best-in-Class (BIC) acquisition solutions, GSA helped government agencies acquire innovative technologies, reduce duplicative enterprise contracts, and improve internal efficiencies.

Customer Engagement is Key to Success

The IT Services team considers customer engagement the key to success, working across government with our agency partners to:

  • Share best practices and ideas
  • Drive IT innovation to help support mission requirements
  • Resolve governmentwide IT challenges (i.e., systems integration through data center optimization)
  • Improve acquisition solutions and availability of data and information

We measure our success directly on agencies’ ability to acquire the best IT solutions and services at competitive pricing to meet mission requirements. Customer and industry feedback is an important tool.  Listening allows us to understand strategic and tactical requirements and offer the right solution. So, whether it’s an IT Schedule 70 solution, a GWAC, or another IT contract or program, we will have the right solution for agencies looking to acquire anything IT.

IT Schedule 70

IT Schedule 70 offers more than 7.5 million products, services, and solutions from more than 4,600 contract holders. We constantly scan the market to ensure we are adding new products and services, adding new innovative companies, and working with federal, state, local and tribal agencies to meet specific needs and demands.

Agencies that choose IT Schedule 70 can boost their return on investment by maximizing their budgets and reducing procurement lead times by up to 50% over open market purchases. Further, in the past two fiscal years, IT Schedule 70 has experienced increased usage by agencies—$14.8 billion in FY 2015 and $15.1 billion in FY 2016 with about half of those purchases were for IT services. And these figures also include state and local government utilization of IT Schedule 70.

GWACs

Because they deliver a broad range of comprehensive, flexible, easy to use, and innovative solutions, government agencies continue to use GWACs for small through very large, complex requirements. Spending for FY 2016 on GSA GWACs was $6.2 billion:

  • 8(a) STARS II – $1.4 billion
  • VETS – $126 million
  • Alliant – $3.4 billion
  • Alliant Small Business – $1.3 billion

Looking Forward: Best-in-Class

For FY 2017, the IT Services team is pursuing Best in Class (BIC) designation for the Alliant GWAC. Best-in-Class is a contracting and acquisition classification used across government to denote contracts that meet rigorous category management performance criteria as defined by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and approved by the Category Management Leadership Council. A BIC designation recognizes these contracts as ‘good-for-government’ purchasing solutions that should be used by all agencies. BIC solutions are designed to meet specific criteria that helps maximize IT value for government agencies. BIC qualities include:

  • Developing contract solutions in partnership with agency customers
  • Applying Category Management principles
  • Maintaining consistent and constant collaboration with government agencies and industry partners
  • Using transactional data to improve product offerings
  • Demonstrating a commitment to small business
  • Using Processes to monitor, improve and report pricing and buying patterns to help agencies make more informed decisions

Over the Horizon

Special Item Number (SINs)

Moving forward, the IT Services team will be focusing their efforts on two of the newer IT Schedule 70 SINs:

  • Health IT SIN (132-56) – includes various Health IT services (e.g., connected health, electronic health records, health information exchanges, Health analytics, Personal health information management, etc.)
  • Cloud SIN (132-40) – includes all cloud services that brings potential efficiency improvements and savings to agencies

The IT Services team will work closely with agencies to ensure the new SINs are meeting government’s needs and to provide training and consulting. They will also continue working with industry to bring more companies into the Schedule 70 program and under the SINs.

The team will also concentrate on the GSA IT Schedule 70 Professional Services SIN (132-51), which is the largest Schedule 70 SIN in terms of dollars. Exploring and applying some of the successful industry-customer collaboration best practices used by the GSA Alliant GWAC program will also help us understand how to leverage the new SINs to their full potential.

Open Market Spend

The IT Services team is also working on developing an “open market spend” model for a repeatable process that accurately identifies task orders originally awarded through open market buys.

Alliant and VETS Next Generation GWACs

Finally, the next generation GSA GWACs (Alliant 2, Alliant 2 Small Business GWACs, and VETS 2) are all expected to be awarded and operational in FY18. Once they are in place, the team will begin performing a broad outreach effort to educate and train customers on these latest offerings.

About IT Services

GSA’s IT Services Subcategory, composed of IT Consulting and IT Outsourcing services, is responsible for a portfolio of contracts and programs providing government agencies with a diverse set of IT solutions. To learn more, please visit our IT Consulting and IT Outsourcing Hallways on the Acquisition Gateway.

Also, follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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New Cybersecurity SINs Open for Business

Posted by Mary Davie
on October 20, 2016

Last month we announced that we had established four new Highly Adaptive Cybersecurity Services (HACS) Special Item Numbers (SINs) through IT Schedule 70, in support of the Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan (CSIP) and Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP).

Since then, our team has been working hard with our industry partners to ensure the SINs are sufficiently populated with rigorously vetted suppliers.

Mission Accomplished

I’m proud to say that, against tight deadlines, we have achieved that mission. The first phase of the oral technical evaluations have been completed and we were able to expedite the modification/award processes to get the initial 15 vendors included on the SINs.

Remember, these new SINs are important because they provide agencies with quicker and more reliable access to key, pre-vetted support services that will expand agencies’ capacity to test their high-priority IT systems, rapidly address potential vulnerabilities, and stop adversaries before they impact our networks.

Further, we have taken steps to make sure that the SINs feature high-quality cybersecurity vendors offering federal, state, local, and tribal agencies the following services:

  • Penetration Testing,
  • Incident Response,
  • Cyber Hunt, and
  • Risk and Vulnerability Assessment

Throughout this process, we have partnered closely with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure the vendors will provide a high level of service to agencies and we will continue to work with such agencies to ensure the government’s cybersecurity needs are being met.

Additionally, we will continue to evaluate and add more vendors to make these SINs even more robust. In fact, all current IT Schedule 70 vendors that offer these services will be required to migrate those services to the new SINs. This, of course, will also provide a way for our industry partners to more easily differentiate these specific cybersecurity services from other IT offerings.

Moving forward, with agency support

Tony Scott, the Federal Chief Information Officer, has applauded our push to centralize the federal government’s buying experience for cybersecurity products and services. As we partner with OMB to provide new capabilities, they are encouraging agencies to buy Cybersecurity Services through IT Schedule 70. With 15 vetted vendors now awarded under the HACS SINs, agencies can begin to establish Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) and/or place task orders in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulation 8.4 procedures.

To learn more, please visit www.gsa.gov/cybersecurity.

Also, please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Cloud SIN Continues to Rain Success

Posted by Mary Davie
on September 7, 2016

As I reported back in January (The Cloud SIN: Making Sense of Cloud Options, Jan. 21, 2016), we successfully implemented our Cloud Special Item Number (SIN) 132-40 on IT Schedule 70 last year. We added the Cloud SIN to make it even easier for agencies to find cloud-specific solutions, and I’m happy to report that the SIN continues to see notable growth in both customer and industry participation with dozens of solicitations and 23 vendors adopting the SIN.

The Cloud SIN allows us to centralize and streamline access to cloud computing services that help meet federal, state, and local governments’ ever-evolving needs. Agencies can now clearly distinguish cloud from non-cloud IT products and services in order to get to the right solution quickly. All of the cloud solutions are organized in focused sub-categories that are defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The SIN also provides our industry partners with the enhanced ability to market distinctive cloud computing solutions and offerings.

Head in the Clouds, Feet on the Ground

Offerings through the Cloud SIN continue to become more robust, now with 23 industry partners qualified to offer solutions through the SIN. This is further fueled by federal agencies as several have issued nearly 70 solicitations against it.

One of the latest solicitations comes from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as an enterprise-wide Request for Quotation (RFQ) with a contract value of $1.6 billion over a ten-year period (RFQ HSHQDC-16-Q-00195). In addition to DHS, several other agencies have also submitted Cloud SIN solicitations including; the U.S. Air Force, Department of Justice, Veterans Affairs, Army, and the Department of Interior.

The SIN is popular because agencies can easily solicit from a vetted field of supplier offerings, determined by GSA to fit five essential cloud characteristics:

  • on-demand self-service,
  • broad network access,
  • resource pooling,
  • rapid elasticity,
  • and measured service.

Learning More About Cloud

For more resources on the Cloud SIN, including guidance for transitioning your company’s services onto the SIN or how to use the SIN to build a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA), please visit our Cloud SIN page.

Our Cloud team also regularly hosts informational webinars to discuss our whole suite of cloud solutions. The most recent one, How to Acquire Cloud and Make it Secure, featured Ashley Mahan, GSA FedRAMP Agency Evangelist. Ashley discussed FedRAMP and how it applies to the Federal Community and Industry. In the same webinar, ITS’s Skip Jentsch provided an overview of the cloud computing services we offer, and demonstrated how these acquisition vehicles can save time, money, and risk associated with procuring cloud services.

Check out the slide deck on our LinkedIn page and stay tuned to our Twitter feed @GSA_ITS for future events.

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