Treasury Maps Out Its $1B Multicloud Future

Steve Heap/Shutterstock

According to the newly released acquisition roadmap, the T-Cloud contract will include, at least, offerings from AWS, Microsoft, Google and Oracle.

The Treasury Department released a Cloud Acquisition Roadmap outlining the current state of the agency’s cloud architecture—namely, a hybrid cloud running Amazon Web Services—and the desired future state: a $1 billion multicloud environment called the T-Cloud.

Published Sunday, the roadmap builds off the cloud and IT modernization strategies released earlier this year, adding substance to the procurement strategy and explaining the agency’s interest in a diverse, enterprise cloud environment.

“At present, Treasury bureaus are individually moving forward with cloud solutions, and have implemented a number of cloud solutions to address unique mission priorities requiring agile and elastic approaches, often through duplicative contract actions,” the strategy states. “This scattered approach, while offering varying degrees of agility for individual customers, ignores opportunities for cost reduction through service deduplication and consolidated procurement actions.”

The roadmap notes acquisition is often the biggest barrier to cloud adoption, and “occasionally negate many of the just-in-time benefits associated with cloud services.” The fix—proposed in the acquisition roadmap—is a shared services environment in which Treasury components work within the same multicloud environment.

Using the “enterprisewide acquisition strategy” will allow procurement officials to concentrate on “long contract lifecycles” while Treasury programs focus on meeting their missions day to day. This strategy also allows the department to use its significant buying power to barter for lower costs than if smaller components attempted to solicit individual solutions.

According to the roadmap, components across Treasury are increasing cloud usage at 30% per year.

The department currently operates a cloud environment called Workplace Community Cloud, or WC2, which includes Amazon Web Services at the moderate and high levels. The department has plans to broaden the WC2 to include multiple cloud offerings, including adding Microsoft Azure in the near future.

By adopting a multicloud approach, Treasury officials hope to give component agencies access to the resources they need without having to build their own contracts.

“Every CSP has specific strengths and weaknesses tied to exclusive proprietary technical features, and the unique requirements for a workload will often make one cloud better suited than another from both a performance and cost standpoint,” the roadmap states.

Unfortunately, different cloud offerings have different infrastructure and protocols, making it difficult to simply shift workloads from one platform to the next. There are options, the document notes, but they are rarely cost-effective.

“This ‘stickiness’ can be overcome by adding additional software that ‘abstracts’ the clouds so that they all look alike to a workload, but this software is itself proprietary and expensive, and this is only justified for workloads that are so critical that they must survive a CSP-wide incident,” the roadmap reads. “No matter what choices you make, you are generally ‘stuck’ with a platform until a competitor makes a fundamental technical or pricing advance that makes it sufficiently attractive for you to dedicate the time and money to migrate your workload to a different platform. For these reasons, a workload moved to Amazon and optimized in Amazon will operate best in Amazon, and the same for a workload moved to Microsoft or Oracle or Google. From a practical perspective, it means that the Treasury will need to have multiple CSPs under contract.”

To achieve this goal, Treasury procurement officials are planning a multitiered approach, including short-term buys that will increase the use of AWS and raise the current ceiling on those contracts from $6.4 million to $9.6 million. This also includes awarding three- to four-year sole-source bridge contracts to the current professional services providers managing those contracts.

Those short-term contracts will bide the time until Treasury is set to award the T-Cloud contracts, expected to have a seven-year lifespan and “a ceiling in excess of $1 billion,” according to the roadmap.

That contract is expected to include the “full suite” of AWS, Microsoft, Google and Oracle cloud services; a method for moving workloads between those clouds; the ability to onramp additional cloud providers and third-party services, and the “full range” of professional support services.

The agency is currently conducting market research and drafting a preliminary request for information, which it expects to release in fiscal 2020. If the schedule holds, a draft statement of objectives will be released in fiscal 2021, with an award projected in fiscal 2022.