Clear Skies Ahead

Ever since cloud computing became mainstream in the business world, government leaders have been urging agencies to adopt more cloud technologies, citing efficiency, labor and equipment cost reductions, and the ability to modernize technology. The first big push toward cloud was in 2010, with the federal “Cloud First” policy, and it continues today with last year’s Modernizing Government Technology Act, which stresses cloud adoption. State and local governments also are invested in cloud technology. According to NASCIO, cloud services have moved into the second most important priority to state CIOs, right behind security.

In the past few years, cloud adoption has picked up a bit throughout government. According to Deloitte, most federal respondents say their agency has moved at least some applications to the cloud, and more than two-thirds say they need some type of cloud access to do their jobs. Typically, they cite cost savings as a major driver because cloud services are often pay-as-you-go, which means agencies never have to pay for capacity or services they aren’t using.

Most agencies, however, want to move more applications and infrastructure to the cloud. According to Deltek, 80 percent of federal agencies consider cloud migration one of their top three IT objective over the next three years. A Meritalk survey agrees, finding that 70 percent of feds believe that in 10 years, the majority of federal agencies will be using hybrid cloud environments to run core applications.

To make the process easier, GSA’s IT Schedule 70 now has a Special Item Number (SIN) dedicated to cloud services procurement. The SIN (132-40), available to federal, state and local agencies, splits out offerings into different types of services, clearly describing them and making procurement much easier. Some of the offerings include:

  • Email as a Service (EaaS): Instead of managing an email client with thousands or tens of thousands of users, many agencies choose to use a cloud-based email service, which offloads management and troubleshooting to a cloud-based provider. With this type of service, agency employee can securely access their email from anywhere, via any device.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Instead of relying on an agency’s own servers, operating systems, software. storage and networking resources, many agencies have found that it’s more cost-effective and less labor-intensive to access the infrastructure they need on demand.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): DevOps is a big deal in government today, but it requires resources that can be quickly scaled up during projects and back down when project are finished. PaaS allows agencies to spin up entire platforms on demand, complete with servers, storage, networks, operating systems and databases.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS): This is by far the most widely used type of cloud computing. Today, it’s possible to get almost any type of application as a service, from office productivity suites to project management, collaboration and transaction processing.

Cloud computing clearly is destined to grown throughout government, and the ability to procure cloud services more easily via GSA IT Schedule 70 can help ease the journey. Using a pre-approved vendor with expertise in cloud computing and government computing can make a great deal of sense. CDW-G, a long-time collaborative partner with government, is one of those vendors, with a full complement of cloud-related services and offerings, along with a specialized government support team.