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6/16/2010
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GSA To Migrate E-Mail, Collaboration To Cloud

Savings, management, and archiving are among reasons the General Services Administration wants to move from an on-premises collaboration suite.

The General Services Administration is planning to move its e-mail and collaboration software to the cloud to save money and allow for better management of the system, it said.

The agency currently uses an on-premises IBM Lotus Notes/Domino system and wants to replace that with something Web-based, according to a request for proposals seeking enterprise e-mail and collaboration software.

In the RFP, the GSA said that it's seeking a solution that would allow the agency to monitor performance and manage through roles and business rules rather than "physical control of assets and direct software licensing."

"The government believes that traditional outsourcing and system integration support is insufficiently adaptive and costly and should be replaced by commodity services with a SaaS cloud computing offering," the agency said.

The GSA also wants to move its e-mail to the cloud to make it easier to archive and retrieve e-mails more efficiently and at less cost, according to the RFP. It cited "recent regulations for handling e-mail litigation hold and discovery" as a reason for its interest in facilitating a more efficient archiving and e-discovery service.

Better integration between messaging and collaboration features is another reason for the move, the agency said. The GSA also wants to reduce the cost of storage and maintenance that the current system incurs, as well as provide more timely updates to the e-mail system. Currently, the GSA supports about 15,500 individual e-mail accounts and about 3,000 additional accounts that are either shared or are for other resources. About 9,300 e-mail accounts currently can be accessed via Blackberry devices.

The agency expects its number of accounts to grow to about 30,000 in total and thinks a Web-based system can better support this growth, according to the RFP.

Any vendor bidding for the award will be expected to procure a cloud-based e-mail and collaboration service as well as a service for backup and disaster recovery. The vendor also will be expected to provide around-the-clock technical support and security for the system, according to the RFP.

The federal government as a whole has been investigating the benefits of cloud computing and various agencies have been taking initial steps toward adoption.

The GSA is one of the agencies leading the way. The agency is readying the launch infrastructure as a service (IaaS) on the Apps.gov cloud services portal.

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