What's Under the Hood of GSA's $100M Cloud Contract

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Don’t worry: Aquilent says it won’t be a cloud broker in name only.

After I wrote about the General Services Administration’s new cloud computing services contract with Aquilent – worth a cool $100 million, by the way – a few readers raised an interesting question.

Would Aquilent be a cloud broker in name only?

In other words, would Aquilent provide GSA and its many offices and departments access to infrastructure-as-a-service offerings, or Iaas, from other cloud providers -- or just Amazon Web Services, the company referenced in press releases by Aquilent and GSA?

These were good questions I couldn’t answer, so I went to Aquilent’s helpful public relations folks and got some answers.

First, a little background.

As I wrote last week, Aquilent will provide its GSA customers a broad range of cloud services, “from cloud hosting to cloud-managed services to cloud architecture, development and security.”

GSA officials said the procurement is part of the agency's mission to be more agile, giving a nod to its new 18F digital team.

Interestingly, Amazon was the only vendor mentioned in press statements by the agency or GSA. Perhaps that’s because Aquilent is an AWS Premier Partner.

However, that doesn’t mean Aquilent is providing all GSA’s IaaS needs through AWS.

“As a neutral, CSP-agnostic cloud broker, we also work with several other providers such as Verizon Terremark and Microsoft,” an Aquilent spokeswoman told me.

“For GSA, we will constantly evaluate the federal cloud marketplace for the best FedRAMP-compliant cloud solutions to meet agency and constituent needs,” the spokeswoman added.

GSA also has the option to ask for services from a particular vendor depending on its needs.

“GSA could request another vendor or Aquilent would make recommendations to GSA as a trusted adviser based on their business requirements,” the spokeswoman said.

Ultimately, this type of flexible deal makes sense for GSA. It would be strange for GSA, especially given 18F’s call for a modern approach to IT, to lock itself into a deal with a single broker and IaaS provider.

As always, feel free to email me or tweet at me with questions, comments or tips.

(Image via liravega/Shutterstock.com)

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