VA considers moving e-mail to the cloud

Department issues RFI to ask vendors for help

The Veterans Affairs Department may be the next federal organization — and the largest to date — to move its e-mail system to the cloud.

The VA published a “Big 4 Hosted Cloud” request for information on Feb. 25 to ask vendors for input in designing, building and deploying an integrated hosted cloud service to provide enterprise exchange e-mail, archive, backup and storage. Responses are due by March 14.

In the 104-page RFI, the VA said it is following recent White House guidance to potentially move some of its infrastructure to the cloud. The General Services Administration and the Agriculture Department transitioned their e-mail services to the cloud last year.


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The VA is looking for a contractor to provide, configure and manage hardware, software, storage and networking for cloud applications for a projected 600,000 VA staff members.

The solution would involve all of, or part of, enterprise exchange e-mail, archive, SharePoint, BlackBerry, storage, and backup solutions in a hosted cloud environment. The VA is considering both a contractor-hosted cloud and an internal VA-managed cloud.

The VA wants the vendor to provide and manage four data centers in the continental United States.

The VA asks vendors to respond to the following questions in the RFI:

  • Does industry recommend hosting all of these applications in the cloud, and if so, why? 
  • Does industry recommend hosting some of these applications in the cloud, and if so, why? 
  • What is the estimated migration cost to move to the hosted platform?
  • What is the estimated yearly recurring non-administrative costs for the requested services?
  • What is the yearly recurring cost for administrative support?
  • Does industry recommend a public or an internal cloud to meet these requirements?

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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