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HHS Wants to Send Desktops to the Cloud, Expects Other Agencies to Follow

Maksim Kabakou/

The Health and Human Services Department is looking to send as many as 200,000 computer desktops into the cloud, according to new documents.

The agency is considering turning its employees’ current Windows-based PCs and laptops into thin clients or buying new thin clients -- workstations with limited built-in processing power that access applications stored on remote servers.

HHS also is interested in the possibility of running virtual desktops on employees’ own personal devices -- a bring-your-own-device or BYOD strategy -- as well as any other ideas, according to a request for information posted Sunday.

Initially, the cloud-based desktop-as-a-service capabilities will be used by a small group of remote workers, but HHS hopes to set up an environment that could expand to all the department's computer users and eventually, to other outside agencies as well.

The request also seeks information about all associated networking technology -- including servers, switches, routers and firewalls, and both local and wide-area networking.

The system must include antivirus protection, a host intrusion detection system, a firewall and drive encryption, the documents said. Officials also want patch management, software licensing and remote management capability.

Companies interested in the job must have in their pocket at least one similarly sized and equally complex desktop-as-a-service installation for the federal government -- a requirement that likely will limit the field of potential vendors.

Interested companies should also describe how the system might affect users’ workflows, including support for USB drives and encrypted flash drives, phone synchronization and printer compatibility. The system also must support video conferencing and Web cams.

Perhaps because HHS computing systems are not yet upgraded, responses to the call for information should arrive by July 17 as PDFs or Word documents.

(Image via Maksim Kabakou/

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