shared services broker

GSA looks down the road at shared services

This is the last in a series on shared services. Read part one and part two.

The General Services Administration has acted as a broker of products and services to government agencies since its inception. So it makes sense that the agency is considering its latest role: as a potential broker of shared services via the cloud. 

In fact, many government agencies, whether they provide their own cloud solutions or those of external contractors, are tinkering with the mechanism for offering shared services. 

Much of the attention has focused on a cloud services brokerage (CSB) model and how to make it work in a government context. The National Institute of Standards and Technology defines brokers as organizations that manage the performance and delivery of cloud services. 

At GSA, Tom Kireilis, acting director of GSA’s Technology Optimization Division and director of the agency’s Cloud Services Program Management Office (PMO), said the Cloud Computing PMO is exploring options for a next-generation cloud computing services business model, which could potentially be the CSB model. 

In September, GSA awarded its CSB proof-of-concept contract to Kforce Government Solutions, to assess commercial tools and management platforms for creating a CSB. 

The contract grew out of a request for information in 2012 that sparked feedback from 81 respondents. GSA held deep-dive discussions with a subset of those respondents, involving a brainstorming group that Kireilis said included the Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments, among other agencies. 

Kireilis said the CSB model may be thought of as an extensible electronic catalog. 

“We would have our catalog of cloud services available through our GWAC contracts, BPAs and Schedule 70,” he said. “That electronic catalog can be expanded to include customer agencies’ cloud services that they have with their own internal contracts.”

Essentially, an agency would have access to its own cloud services contracts, along with GSA’s cloud vehicles, through the electronic catalog. A DHS program office that needed 100 virtual machines could use the catalog to tap GSA’s Infrastructure-as-a-service vehicle or use a DHS contract to compete its requirement.

GSA, meanwhile, wants to gain experience in designing a cloud brokerage operating model that fits the needs of its partners, Kireilis said. That remains a work in progress. The plan is to document lessons learned and complete requirements for the production phase, which will follow the current concept development phase. That stage will wrap up early in fiscal 2014, Kireilis said. 

Elsewhere, the Defense Information Systems Agency has released a draft request for proposals for a cloud brokerage contract, said Joe Brown, president of Accelera Solutions, a virtualization and cloud computing solution provider based in Fairfax, Va. In addition, Brown noted that Fairfax County, Va., has set up a cloud brokerage portal as part of its shared services approach. He said Accelera has signed up to participate as one of the county’s service providers. 

“We definitely see shared services gaining momentum,” Brown said.   

This is the last in a series on shared services. Read part one and part two.

About the Author

John Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.

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