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Government Clouds: Interior Dept. Sets New Standard

IBM, AT&T, Verizon among 10 companies that could receive up to $1 billion each as part of DOI's deeper push into cloud computing.
The DOI's transformation is one of the first examples of a cabinet-level department embracing a cloud broker model, said Venkatapathi Puvvada, group VP of civilian agencies at Unisys Federal Systems, in an email interview.

"Government agencies are facing severe budget restrictions. This government-wide contract can allow the DOI and other government agencies to significantly reduce the time needed to obtain cloud services while cutting costs through consumption-based pricing rather than paying for idle servers and maintaining and operating applications," Puvvada said. "What DOI is doing is very innovative."

Lockheed Martin's VP of energy solutions Frank Armijo said moving to the cloud is an affordable and low-risk transition path for the DOI, as it shifts away from traditional IT. The company, which offers a solutions-as-a-service platform, will use its expertise to identify the right cloud, mobility and collaboration products and services to help the agency operate more efficiently, said Armijo, in an email interview.

IBM is competing to provide the DOI access to its Smart Cloud for Government, which is hosted at the vendor's federal data center, as well as IBM AIX Cloud and SmartCloud Enterprise, IBM's public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service.

Aquilent is another vendor bringing a strong offering to the table. Instead of building its own cloud, the company partners with commercial cloud providers capable of meeting federal security guidelines. "Since the contract aligns with our internal cloud approach about making it easier to move to and manage the cloud, we will be actively marketing the DOI IDIQ," said Aquilent's CTO Mark Pietrasanta, in an email interview.

For Verizon, it could be one of its largest federal cloud contracts to date. Verizon has a history with the DOI, providing the agency with advanced networking and security products. In addition to competing for cloud-based storage, secure file transfer, virtual machine, as well as database, Web, and development and test environment hosting services, Verizon was one of four selected by the DOI to offer SAP application hosting services.

"This is a change we've been eager to make for a while. The cloud hosting award was on hold until recently, when a contract protest was dismissed by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims," said the DOI's Andrew Jackson, in a written statement announcing the contracts last week. "Now that we can finally move forward with these contracts, we're expecting significant reductions in hardware, software and operations costs to the taxpayer."