GSA is considering the addition of a unified special item number (SIN) for Cloud Computing Services and posted an RFI to on July 9, 2014 to collect information from industry and stakeholders. The purpose of the unified SIN is to “improve the way that GSA offers cloud computing services through IT Schedule 70, increase visibility and access of cloud computing services to customer agencies, and to provide industry partners the opportunity to differentiate their cloud computing services from other IT related products and services.”

The goals of this RFI are to 1) gain feedback from industry and stakeholders on the proposed unified SIN and 2) better understand how schedule holders are selling cloud services via IT Schedule 70. Currently, commercial cloud services are being sold on Schedule 70 through several different SINs, but GSA believes the “cloud computing services market is sufficiently mature to offer differentiated and vetted cloud computing services through a single SIN.”

What I thought was cool about this RFI is that it poses questions three questions to federal buyers, to collect their feedback and insights on the acquisition of cloud-enabled IT services:

1. How does your agency typically procure cloud services? For example, what contract vehicles are used, and what contract types?
2. Does your government organization expect that this proposed SIN will improve the transparency and ease of use of acquiring cloud services through IT Schedule 70?
3. Do you have any input to the questions posed to industry in Section C?

It would be awesome to use the “power of the path” to crowdsource a high-quality, well-informed response to these three questions. I have created a Google Doc to coordinate the collection of information from anyone who would like to engage. As with all Learning Path activities, practitioners can earn CLPs for their participation (see the Activity Log for details on how to submit your work for CLPs).

Responses to the RFI are due on August 6th at 4pm, so there is plenty of time to add value  to GSA’s effort while earning CLPs for contributing to open learning!

Hacking Federal Procurement of Cloud Services

On Thursday, June 26, ASI Government and Amazon Web Services (AWS) facilitated a unique workshop at the AWS Government, Education, and Nonprofits Symposium. The event, Hacking Federal Procurement of Cloud Services, was part of ASI’s latest innovation in social and informal learning, the cloud computing learning path.

The session was attended by over 30 people including representatives from the Department of Health & Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The purpose of the event was to harness the collective intelligence and diverse perspectives of participants from industry & government to create solutions to challenges inherent to acquiring cloud-enabled IT services. Specifically, the hackathon focused on three primary challenges:

  1. Improving understanding of cloud-enabled IT by writing requirements in plain language,
  2. Leveraging the full flexibility of the Federal Acquisition Regulation to devise acquisition strategies that enable agencies to take advantage of cloud benefits, and
  3. Creating evaluation methodologies and service level agreements to maximize the return on investment in cloud-enabled IT.

To facilitate the event, ASI and AWS developed two case studies based on real federal scope statements, the first for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and the second for Desktop-as-a-Service (DTaaS). Two groups worked on each case study, providing an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the diversity in decision-making and possible solutions for acquiring cloud-enabled IT services. Participants were challenged to simplify the scope statements using guidance from FAR Part 11 by rewriting them with plain language, prior to tackling tougher challenges like developing an acquisition strategy and evaluation methodology.

As with all activities on our open learning paths, findings were captured in real time on our Google Drive platform. Our hope is that acquisition professionals will utilize these findings for their own acquisition issues, and contribute their findings back to the open repository as we continue to curate the cloud computing learning path. In this manner, we can work together to preserve, promote, and expand our knowledge of acquiring cloud-enabled IT services while earning Continuous Learning Points for our efforts.