Sep 3, 2015

By Carmen Calloway

”To Cloud or Not To Cloud”: That is the question. You’ve probably asked yourself this question regarding the Cloud concept. What is it and how does it work? I admit that the concept of cloud is not easy, but here are some basics of cloud that helped me. The term “cloud computing” is everywhere and is one of the most important technology trends we have access to today. In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The “cloud” is just a metaphor for the Internet.

What cloud computing is NOT about is your computer hard drive. When you store data on or run programs from the hard drive, that’s called local storage and computing. Everything you need is physically close to you, and accessing your data is fast and easy, for that one computer. Working off your hard drive is how the computer industry worked for decades. However, with an internet connection, cloud computing can be done, anytime, and from anywhere.

Cloud computing has made huge trends in the past year toward becoming a mainstream business tool. Policies such as Cloud First have moved federal agencies to consider cloud computing before other options for new IT projects. The General Services Administration (GSA) has taken the lead in creating a One-Stop Shop for Cloud Services by using its Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) Program and other government wide contracts.

This past April, IT Schedule 70 added the Cloud Special Item Number (SIN) 132-40 to its roster of offerings for Federal, State and Local agencies who are looking for cloud solutions. GSA Cloud IT Services offer convenient, on-demand access to a shared pool of computing resources that can be rapidly and easily configured, provisioned and released. These solutions are offered through the Internet on a pay-as-you-go or subscription basis in three service models: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed technical standards and guidelines for providing adequate information security for all agency operations that is consistent with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requirements for Cloud.

The benefits of GSA’s Cloud Computing Solutions are to lower IT operating costs, offer faster IT adoption and implementation, ease of use regarding collaboration and development, and data security and control just to name a few. The single Cloud SIN will help ordering agencies find the total cloud solution in one place and more easily create a custom configuration to meet their agency’s needs. This will also allow the Schedule 70 Program to bring new and evolving cloud technologies to market faster.

If you are interested in offering your cloud services to GSA, or would like to discuss additional information regarding the cloud requirements, let Centre help by contacting us.

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