NASA, Other Agencies Compete To Offer Cloud Services

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WASHINGTON — The competition to win federal business for cloud computing services is not confined to contractors. A number of federal agencies are also busily assembling and marketing contracts for cloud services they hope other agencies will use as well — for a fee.

Among those agencies looking to win a piece of the cloud business — projected to reach $20 billion — are the General Services Administration, NASA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).

“We’re starting to see more orders come through that are related to cloud computing,” said Robert Coen, deputy program director for the NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center, which offers cloud services through its Electronic Commodity Store (ECS) 3 contract.

Agency contracts that provide cloud services include:

  • NIH’s ECS 3.

The contract has a $6 billion ceiling and charges a 0.05 percent fee with a maximum fee of $10,000 per order. Software and infrastructure-as-a-service, mobile devices and telecommunications equipment are among the offerings provided by GTSI, General Dynamics Information Technology and 56 other vendors.

  • NIH’s CIO-SP3, or Chief Information Office-Solutions and Partners 3.

NIH plans this year to offer cloud services on the $20 billion CIO-SP3 and a separate $20 billion CIO-SP3 small-business contract. Agencies pay a 1 percent fee on each task order, with the exception of the small-business contract, which uses a sliding scale. If requested, assistance is provided from the pre-award stage through the life of a task order.

  • GSA’s Integrated Email as a Service.

GSA asked vendors in May for quotes on a five-year, $2.5 billion cloud-computing contract that will offer email and other services. The contract is expected to be awarded by August.

  • GSA’s Infrastructure as a Service.

GSA awarded this five-year, $76.5 million contract in November to 12 vendors. The contract offers cloud-based storage, virtual machines and Web hosting. GSA officials say the contract is efficient: Agencies can make awards for service in three weeks, and the order fee is 0.75 percent.

  • NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurements government-wide contract.

The contract has a $5.6 billion ceiling and includes software-as-a-service offerings from Microsoft, Google and other cloud vendors. Thirty-eight vendors are on the seven-year contract, which expires in 2014. The fee is 0.45 percent per order, with a $10,000 cap for orders exceeding $2.22 million. The product catalog is updated to reflect customer demand.

  • DISA private cloud.

DISA is positioning itself to be the Defense Department’s primary provider for cloud computing. Email services, Web hosting and other cloud offerings are available only to DoD on DISA’s private cloud on a fee-for-service basis.

Federal chief information officers also have not ruled out using their own contracts to move information technology services to a cloud environment.

Commerce Department Chief Information Officer Simon Szykman said the department “is not using a single approach for our cloud needs but is instead considering a variety of options, including use of existing contracting vehicles within the department, new acquisitions, and GSA’s governmentwide cloud offerings.”

The administration has commissioned GSA to assist agencies in meeting cloud mandates through its contracts.

Cost and the vendor’s ability to meet requirements will play a big role in determining whether GSA is the best option, Szykman said.

Whether GSA’s contracts dominate the market “will rely on the ability of [federal Chief Information Officer] Vivek Kundra to keep everybody in line,” said Larry Allen, president of consulting firm Allen Federal Business Partners. “How will Vivek be able to direct agencies to say ‘I want you to use GSA schedules and not someone else’s?’”

At a recent TechAmerica event, GSA Administrator Martha Johnson said Kundra will be “quite strong” in steering agencies to use the contracts.

Despite overall increases in federal information technology spending, revenue generated from information technology products and services through GSA has remained flat. Last year, agencies spent $21.2 billion purchasing information technology products and services through GSA, 27 percent of the $78 billion federal information technology budget.

Information technology spending through agencies’ contracts has increased faster than through GSA’s governmentwide contracts, said Deniece Peterson, a federal industry analyst for INPUT. That trend could continue, she said.

Whether agencies use GSA’s cloud comes down to cost and how much control agencies want to have, she said.