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GCN : November 2013
hopes of getting government customers to answer in the affirmative by offering ser- vices ranging from email to identity man- agement to online payment systems. Providing a service isn t the only chal- lenge. Cloud providers need to let po- tential buyers know they have services to offer. They may also have to overcome procurement and contracting hurdles. And they still face the task of convincing other agencies that shared services will work for them. "The hard part is a lack of understand- ing out there," said Phil Bertolini, CIO and deputy county executive for Oakland County, Mich., which offers shared servic- es to other local governments. "They don t understand what the cloud is or how to share services in that way. They are concerned with security --- where is their data going to be?" SUPPLY AND DEMAND Oakland County, in south- east Michigan, has been providing shared services to area governments for years, originally on big iron. The county now pursues shared services via the cloud, launching G2G Cloud Solutions in 2011. The government-to-government cloud provider offers online payment, over-the-counter payment and Web host- ing services. Government customers can use the on- line payment service to receive payment for everything from utility bills to traf- fic tickets. The OTC system lets agencies process in-office payments through a card swipe at the counter. G2G Cloud Solutions Web publishing suite, meanwhile, offers site hosting and content management via Microsoft SharePoint, Bertolini said. The self-funding cloud operation aims to share services at little or no cost for cus- tomers, relying on enhanced access fees to maintain the services. The idea is starting to catch on among agencies, with a grow- ing slice of the activity coming from beyond Oakland County; G2G Cloud Solutions are available to local governments nationwide. Bertolini said a third of the more than 50 government entities using the county s online payment engine, for example, are outside of the county, and the percentage is higher still among agencies in the queue waiting to go live with online payment. "We want it to go broader," Bertolini said of the cloud services. "It helps lower the cost for everybody --- as we do more trans- actions it lowers the cost per transaction." Cloud-based shared services at the fed- eral level also are rolling out. A recent ex- ample is the U.S. Postal Service s Federal Cloud Credential Exchange (FCCX), which aims to put identity management in the cloud. USPS in August awarded a contract to SecureKey Technologies Inc. to field a cloud-based authentication infrastructure for FCCX. The vision for FCCX is to provide an au- thentication service for all federal agen- cies. The service will letusers tap third- party credentials to access multiple federal online resources, while freeing agencies from maintaining standalone systems for authenticating citizen transactions. FCCX will initially operate as a pilot proj- ect. Darleen Reid, senior public relations representative, said the pilot s participants are yet to be determined. But she added that a number of agencies have been assist- ing in developing its requirements. Those include the Veterans Affairs and Education Departments, the Social Security Adminis- tration and the IRS. "The pilot primarily will present an op- portunity to evaluate whether there is a viable market and revenue model for the Postal Service," Reid said. The expense of operating isolated iden- tity management systems may encourage adoption. "The costs to government agencies as- sociated with managing agency-specific credentialing systems have grown expo- nentially in recent years," Reid said. Email, among the first enterprise applications to go to the cloud, represents another shared service. The General Services Administra- tion awarded its email as a service (EaaS) program to 17 providers in 2012. The blanket purchase agreements are open to local, state and federal agencies. GSA also awarded cloud BPAs under its infrastructure as a service (IaaS) pro- gram. A dozen vendors hold those con- tracts, which were awarded in 2010. Tom Kireilis, acting director of GSA s Technol- ogy Optimization Division and director of the agency s Cloud Services Program Management Office, said IaaS has gener- ated $44 million in business across eight agency customers. The Cloud Services PMO is part of Office of Integrated Technology Services, which operates within the Federal Acquisition Service. Kireilis said that the protest- delayed EaaS program is still ramping up. Two awards have been made to date, but he said he anticipates a large volume of business in fiscal 2014. GOING FOR BROKER Government agencies, whether they pro- vide their own cloud solutions or those of external contractors, are tinkering with the mechanism for offering shared ser- vices. Much of the attention focuses on a cloud services brokerage (CSB) model and how to make it work in a government context. The National Institute of Stan- dards and Technology defines brokers as organizations that manage the perfor- mance and delivery of cloud services. At GSA, Kireilis said the Cloud Comput- ing PMO is exploring options for a next- generation cloud computing services business model, which could potentially be the CSB model. GSA in September awarded its CSB proof-of-concept con- tract to Kforce Government Solutions, to assess commercial tools and management platforms for creating a CSB. The contract grew out of a request for information in 2012 that sparked feed- back from 81 respondents. GSA held deep-dive discussions with a subset of those respondents, involving a brain- GCN NOVEMBER 2013 • GCN.COM 25 "THE HARD PART ISALACKOF UNDERSTANDING OUT THERE." -- PHIL BERTOLINI, OAKLAND COUNTY, MICH., CIO