On May 10 the GSA published a request for quotation aiming to select vendors for blanket purchase agreements through which either individual departments/agencies or groups thereof or GSA itself on their behalf could place task orders to specific services. The RFP is looking for five different lots:
- Email as a Service, covering mailboxes, archiving, directory synchronization, instant messaging, e-discovery, mobile access and so forth.
- Office automation as a service (which includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, video chat, web conference, etc
- Electronic Records Management
- Migration, including mailbox, calendar and contacts migration from a variety of on-premises systems
- Integration, i.e. expertise from project management to test management and administration
All these services must be provided in five different deployment modes
- Government community cloud, which is described as a cloud specifically limited to Government clients with an appropriate Government issued domain name for a Moderate Impact System
- Provider furnished equipment Private Cloud, i.e.private cloud specifically limited to the ordering activity for a Moderate Impact System, based on single-tenant servers, platforms, and other infrastructure, with physical and logical isolation of data and services
- Secret Enclave, i.e. a private cloud specifically limited to the ordering activity for a High Impact System, also based on single-tenant servers and describe the physical and logical isolation of data and services
- Public Cloud, where it is enough to provide sufficient assurance that logical data isolation shall be maintained within the multi-tenant environment throughout all aspects of the system’s functionality and system administration.
The RFQ is very detailed, especially in its email section, and requires quotations to be submitted by June 19th. Being built on the earlier GSA RFP for its own cloud email services, it is likely not to suffer from the same hiccups as the very early IaaS RFQ published in 2009. Yet, it will be interesting how vendors will respond and how they’ll cover different lots. In particular the secret enclave or the private cloud options may be an issue for vendors like Google, while others, such as Microsoft and IBM, should be able to cover quite a lot of the proposed ground.
However the purpose is not to converge on one service, but to give agencies the ability to safely buy email services that meet federal requirements and standard SLAs. Experience from the latest IaaS RFQ shows that some vendors may decide not to respond and to maintain their current offering on the Schedule 70, especially in case they dislike the proposed breakdown to provide unit prices.
This further move from GSA shows that the most interesting role that government can play on cloud is to rationalize procurement rather than mandate, build and run services itself.