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Cloud Marketplace to Support Comprehensive Framework in the U.S.

Federal agencies looking for cloud solutions may soon be able to check with the General Services Administration’s (GSA) one-stop-shop cloud marketplace. The marketplace would feature both post-award contract management tools and professional IT services, along with a “foundational set of requirements” to ensure cloud solutions comply with a baseline set of security requirements and the Federal Risk and Authorisation Management Program guidance.

“We are looking at how we put together a cloud marketplace that then becomes a buying platform for agencies. We want to put together not just a framework, but a market contractual vehicle that will allow our agencies to buy these core cloud services that we are seeing them need more and more.”

Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Information Technology Category in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS)

GSA has released a steady stream of guidelines around buying cloud services and solutions in recent years, and it set up a cloud information centre to equip agencies with crowdsourced, strategic acquisition resources. The agency eventually realized a vehicle was needed to effectively serve government agencies and industry stakeholders, who oversees more than 7,000 contracts and nearly $30 billion in annual government spending.

Some agencies have to go multiple places to buy cloud, hence GSA decided it was time to take the next step. A request for information is scheduled for release in the coming weeks, the GSA official noted, adding that input from industry stakeholders helps them understand how they need to make decisions.

Changes will not be overnight, but often incremental. FAS Commissioner has already warned that efforts to transform the agency’s buying and selling experience is a long term project. Agencies are working on a set of systems, processes and experiences that have been built over the last 30 years. In fact, today, some of the systems are 40 years old. It is not about just adding a little automation to connect the dots, they have to fundamentally rethink some of these things.

U.S. Administration has developed a new strategy to accelerate agency adoption of cloud-based solutions: Cloud Smart. Cloud Smart equips agencies with actionable information and recommendations gleaned from some of the country’s most impactful public and private sector use cases. Beyond Cloud First, which granted agencies broad authority to adopt cloud-based solutions, Cloud Smart offers practical implementation guidance for Government missions to fully actualiSe the promise and potential of cloud-based technologies while ensuring thoughtful execution that incorporates practical realities.

The new strategy is founded on three key pillars of successful cloud adoption: security, procurement, and workforce. Collectively, these elements embody the interdisciplinary approach to IT moderniSation that the Federal enterprise needs to provide an improved return on its investments, enhanced security, and higher quality services to the American people.

Cloud Smart operates on the principle that agencies should be equipped to evaluate their options based on their service and mission needs, technical requirements, and existing policy limitations. Computing and technology decisions should also consider customer impact balanced against cost and cybersecurity risk management criteria. Additionally, agencies need to weigh the long-term inefficiencies of migrating applications as-is into cloud environments against the immediate financial costs of modernising in advance or replacing them altogether.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed how big data, analytics, and cloud technology are being used in the public health sector. Cloud computing can help public health agencies scale up to accommodate the new data load, with architectures that auto-scale and adapt to changing flows. But the systems themselves must also be architected to support the horizontal scaling enabled by cloud computing.

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