In July, the GSA began offering cloud computing services via its Apps.gov website. Federal agencies now can order from a menu of three Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings: cloud storage, virtual machines and Web hosting. All are sold by service providers with GSA Authority to Operate (ATO) certifications.
This is exciting news for proponents of federal cloud adoption. In the words of Elizabeth Montalbano at Informationweek, "the GSA is now for the first time allowing agencies to buy on-demand computing power through service providers that already have the federal stamp of approval, which should make government adoption of cloud computing easier and more efficient."
Cloud computing is all about making IT services and operations more efficient. It only makes sense that the method of acquiring those services should be just as efficient. GSA Portfolio Management Division Director Bill Lewis said the GSA is working to reduce transaction time and the complexity of purchasing cloud solutions, an endeavor that may involve the development of online tools for agencies that allow for on-demand self-service or the ability to increase or decrease the size of their purchase.
This plays directly into a major new White House initiative, announced in June, to cut waste in government programs. Acquisition and procurement is a major source of federal budgetary hemorrhaging. Consultant Larry Allen wrote a good opinion piece in the Washington Business Journal supporting the initiative as an opportunity to "drive buyers toward such programs as SmartBuy for software, Apps.Gov for cloud solutions, and GSA Schedule and government-wide acquisition contracts."
Cloud computing and improved acquisition processes both hold great potential for improving federal agency efficiency and effectiveness. If your agency needs help in either area, take a look at Appian. Our cloud BPM software is ATO-certified by the Department of Education, and we offer both modular and end-to-end solutions for federal acquisition.
-Ben Farrell, Director, Corporate Communications
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