CMS wants to pool IT resources into virtual data center

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is seeking help in building a virtual data center that can pool IT resources from around the country.

CMS wants to establish a group of geographically dispersed, world-class data centers owned and operated by a broad pool of industry partners but under the control of a single procurement vehicle, CMS officials said in a request for proposals issued Dec. 2, seeking contractors who can meet the agency’s requirements.

CMS is soliciting proposals to establish multiple-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity task-order contracts.

The agency uses significant data-center capacity provided by industry to support its IT infrastructure requirements. The CMS mission is to ensure effective, up-to-date health care coverage and to promote quality care for beneficiaries. The need for these industry resources will continue to grow as the beneficiary population continues to increase and legislative mandates raise expectations on CMS to control health care costs and improve health outcomes, CMS officials say.

But industry resources are decentralized and operate under multiple contractual vehicles, a situation that presents barriers to establishing interoperability among data centers. The decentralization also hampers the implementation of standard processes and procedures for data center oversight, and for ensuring compliance with CMS standards for all data-center operations.

CMS officials want to integrate contractor-owned data centers in a way that “allows them to function as a unified set of resources that collectively will be referred to as the Virtual Data Center,” according to the solicitation.

CMS will use a performance-based contractor oversight model for the VDCP contractors. Each VDCP contractor will be responsible for ensuring successful delivery of IT infrastructure services, for providing CMS with visibility into operations and for collaborating with CMS and other CMS contractors for seamless operations within the VDC, the RFP states.

“In turn, CMS will provide oversight to ensure that VDCP contractors are delivering agreed-upon services, to ensure that CMS-business requirements are clearly communicated and satisfied, and to provide timely feedback relative to contractor performance,” according to CMS.

CMS and the VDCP contractors will closely collaborate on IT planning, including service and capacity planning, strategic and tactical planning, and IT resource and budget planning. This combination of industry knowledge, government oversight and collaboration will result in success for all parties, CMS officials said.

Currently, CMS envisions seven categories of VDCP services to be procured under this contract on a recurring basis:

  1. Application hosting services for applications requiring IBM Z/OS, Linux, UNIX and Microsoft Windows computing capabilities and for applications requiring mainframe computing capabilities. And business Intelligence and data warehousing for improving services by employing new digital technologies to implement a knowledge discovery infrastructure that supports business intelligence, customer relationship management, data mining, data warehousing and more.
  2. Resource-based enterprise services for engineering and program management staff to support CMS-specific activities as it relates to data center operations and governance.
  3. Telecommunications and networking services for engineering, implementation and administration of phone systems and data communications networks to support audio, video and data across local and wide area networks.
  4. Disaster recovery services for supporting high availability and backup/recovery for the production systems.
  5. Enterprise security services, for implementing, monitoring and reporting of security protocol across the full spectrum of services provided by the VDCP Contractor.
  6. Infrastructure systems software development services for developing customized software applications, database applications, and other solutions not available in off-the-shelf modular software applications.
  7. Seat management services consisting of hardware, software and support services for CMS employee desktop, remote computing, executive support services and all other forms of user based services.

All technical questions concerning this request for proposal should be submitted in writing no later than 10 a.m. Eastern on Dec. 23 to the following mailbox: OAGM_dsc@cms.hhs.gov. Letters of intent should be submitted no later than Jan. 31, 2012. The proposal submission should be delivered to the above e-mail address no later than 10:00 a.m. EST on Feb. 29, 2012.

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