Federal government seeks bids for cloud computing services

Local companies are hoping to help the federal government move into cloud — or Internet-based — computing, as the General Services Administration prepares to select approved vendors.

GSA has issued a request for quotes, open to companies on its information technology schedule, to provide the cloud infrastructure. After reviewing the bids — due June 30 — GSA will select contractors that federal agencies can then draw on for cloud services.

Through cloud computing, agencies can access a pool of Internet-based resources, such as networks, servers and applications, rather than invest in computing infrastructure. The technology can then be used on an as-needed basis, making it cheaper and quicker to set up.

“Cloud computing is inevitable, said David L. McClure, associate administrator for GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. “It’s the speed and pace and direction that we’re always uncertain of, but it’s an inevitable move because the computing industry itself is moving in this direction.”

Chantilly-based Apptis — which is partnering with Amazon Web Services — is among those companies that plan to compete.

“This is a very important program for the government because it addresses a couple things that have been inhibitors to cloud, the first being ease of procurement,” said Phil Horvitz, the company’s chief technology officer.

Additionally, he said, government concerns about security are addressed in the cloud requirements.

Falls Church-based CSC also plans to bid. In a statement, the company said it already has extensive experience in cloud projects of similar scope.

McClure said he expects federal agencies to use the selected vendors, but the agencies are not limited to buying cloud computing through this program.

“We’ve devised an acquisition vehicle that allows agencies to get access to these services in a very competitively priced environment and one that’s simplified, so we think it will be a win-win both for industry as well as for agencies,” he said. “We’re not trying to create only a one-stop shop for all of cloud computing; we’re just again evolving it out to illustrate to the rest of government that this is doable.”

Many information technology companies are looking into the cloud business, according to Deniece Peterson, industry analysis manager at Input, a firm that studies the government contracting market.

“I think that cloud computing is an area of interest even for companies that ultimately decide they can’t play in the space,” she said. “Everyone looks at it.”

Tim May, Apptis’s senior vice president for business development, said he expects cloud computing to play an increasing role in the government — and that the GSA program will help federal agencies become more comfortable with it.

“We’ve made the comparison to 1995 with the Internet. If you rewind 15 years, there was skepticism,” May said. “Now it’s used in financial transactions, it’s second nature.

Article Credit to: TheWashingtonPost

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