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12/28/2011
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VA Plans Cloud Telephony Pilot

Department of Veterans Affairs solicits information to transform its telephone infrastructure to a voice-as-a-service platform.

Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progres
Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progress
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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) wants to migrate its in-house telephony infrastructure to the cloud in yet another move supporting the federal government's push to decrease costs and increase efficiencies through cloud computing.

The VA is seeking proposals for a voice-as-a-service (VaaS) system that will integrate with a unified communications system--including Internet chat, video, Internet voice, and traditional voice services--to replace its existing department-wide telephony service and reduce its overall communications footprint, according to a request for information (RFI) on FedBizOpps.gov.

The goal for the project is "to continue to provide VA with a robust communications system that has the scalability to adapt to future VA needs while reducing the nonrecurring and recurring costs and the burden associated with the installation/operation/maintenance of its own telephony infrastructure," according to the RFI.

[ Enterprise unified communications use has climbed six points, to 36%, since our 2010 survey. Learn more about the State of Unified Communications. ]

The VA aims to provide this service--which should include dial tone, internal and external call transfer capability, computer telephony integration, common reporting metrics, and all of the standard features and functions of a PBX system--at various department facilities. Therefore, service providers that want to respond to the RFI should consider three different site sizes--a small site with up to 950 users; a medium-sized site with 950 to 5,000 users, and a large site with more than 5,000 users, according to the RFI.

Interested parties have until Jan. 6, 2012, to respond to the RFI, after which the VA will define an acquisition strategy for a proof of concept of a VaaS system or a pilot program. Only after testing the system will the department decide on whether to go ahead with procuring and deploying it, according to the RFI.

The VA has already joined many federal agencies in leveraging the cloud or other off-premises services as part of a cloud first policy instituted by former U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra and continued under his successor, Steven VanRoekel.

Earlier this year, the VA said it would move 600,000 of its employees to a cloud-based email and collaboration system in a comprehensive migration project it's calling the "Big 4," which refers to the number of data centers required to support the new system.

How 10 federal agencies are tapping the power of cloud computing--without compromising security. Also in the new, all-digital InformationWeek Government supplement: To judge the success of the OMB's IT reform efforts, we need concrete numbers on cost savings and returns. Download our Cloud In Action issue of InformationWeek Government now. (Free registration required.)

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