The Veterans Affairs Department is looking to double down on the cloud, posting a request for information for a vendor to manage the migration of its entire enterprise.

The Enterprise Cloud Services (ECS) contract would leverage a single broker to coordinate several differing cloud services used by the VA, both current and future. Having a central managing entity will help the department streamline some of its operating and acquisition issues while "supplying VA with a flexible solution for the delivery of cloud computing services," according to the RFI.

RFI: Enterprise Cloud Services

An accompanying statement of objectives (SOO) explains that the current network infrastructure at VA is "siloed and project-based, focused on solving individual business problems and relying heavily on VA-specific acquisitions." Using the ECS contract, officials hope to find a contracting "partner" that can help unify the IT acquisition process, leading to cost savings and efficiencies.

VA official estimate it would cost around $685 million to replace legacy IT that is "beyond useful lifecycle" in one large procurement. Instead, the department wants to work with the ECS contractor on a plan to migrate the entire system over several years.

Neither the SOO nor RFI provide an estimated length or ceiling for the contract.

"This will result in profound changes in the VA computing environment," according to the SOO. Those changes will "forge a path on how to move the enterprise to full cloud adoption and significantly improve VA's delivery of enhancements to veteran health, benefits and service delivery programs while driving down IT sustainment costs and freeing up resources to fund new and priority emerging requirements."

The push should also help the department meet Office of Management and Budget mandates to move applications to the cloud and shutter data centers.

Both the SOO and RFI lay out four objectives for ECS:

Objective 1: Implement Enterprise Cloud Services

Identify, leverage and establish cloud services through Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) accredited "as-a-service" solutions such as infrastructure, platform, software and storage. This is the principal objective.

Objective 2: Network Modernization and Convergence

Modernize, upgrade and reengineering of the VA network infrastructure, to include on-going operations, maintenance, sustainment and administration.

Objective 3: Unified Communications

Converge all electronic communications onto a single, IP-based enterprise network that seamlessly accommodates all voice, video, data and collaboration traffic establishing a unified communications capability for all the VA end-users and extending to the veterans.

Objective 4: Data Center Consolidation and Hosting

Provide cloud services and mechanisms that enable consolidation of VA's existing data centers to a target state (and number) that promotes cost savings, reduction of assets, standardization and operational efficiency without compromising availability, reliability, business continuity and security.

The RFI includes five questions for industry, with responses due by April 18.

Aaron Boyd is an awarding-winning journalist currently serving as editor of Federal Times — a Washington, D.C. institution covering federal workforce and contracting for more than 50 years — and Fifth Domain — a news and information hub focused on cybersecurity and cyberwar from a civilian, military and international perspective.

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