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9/29/2011
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Homeland Security To Move Websites To Cloud

DHS is first agency to use GSA's infrastructure-as-a-service blanket purchase agreement as it awards $5 million contract to move all public websites to the cloud.

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has become the first federal agency to take advantage of the General Services Administration's (GSA'S) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) with a plan to consolidate and migrate its public websites to the cloud.

The DHS has awarded a $5 million contract to CGI Federal for the job, which is designed to reduce costs and also comply with the "cloud first" policy instituted by former U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra, according to a GSA blog post by Mary Davie, the assistant commissioner for the GSA's Office of Integrated Technology Service.

"GSA's IaaS BPA is 'open for business,'" she said, adding that the GSA designed the BPA to be flexible, offering federal, state, local, and tribal governments "fast and easy access" to a variety of cloud offerings, including storage, Web hosting, and virtual machines.

"These are technologies that will greatly reduce infrastructure maintenance costs and make government more efficient and cost effective," she said.

[ The federal government is seeking help in fighting cyber criminals. Read: Feds Seek Advice To Battle Botnets ]

The GSA began offering to agencies the ability to choose from a menu of cloud computing services via its Apps.gov website in July. The move came a little later than anticipated due to a complicated vendor-authorization process, the GSA said at the time.

So far, the GSA has authorized four companies that have the Authority to Operate under the GSA's Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Blanket Purchase Agreement. In addition to CGI, they are Apptis, Computer Literacy World, and Eyak Tech.

The GSA is still working to authorize eight more companies to deliver services under the BPA and said it should do so by the end of the year, Davie said.

The DHS' choice to use the IaaS BPA also is a vote of confidence for the GSA's ability to assist them with the procurement process for a new set of services, she said. The GSA offers self-service e-tools and step-by-step assistance throughout the entire process to ensure agencies will get the most out of their investment, Davie said.

"The service line managers in our cloud services office are available to assist agencies with market research, requirements development, service level agreements, and other aspects of putting together their cloud acquisitions," she said.

Former CIO Kundra's "cloud first" mandate called for agencies to consider the cloud first when planning new IT projects, as well as identify at least three current IT programs that could be moved to the cloud. The DHS is consolidating and migrating websites to the cloud as one of its "cloud first" projects, with Kundra's successor Steven VanRoekel now in charge of the mandate.

The vendors, contractors, and other outside parties with which you do business can create a serious security risk. Here's how to keep this threat in check. Also in the new, all-digital issue of Dark Reading: Why focusing solely on your own company's security ignores the bigger picture. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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