Veterans agency backs out of cloud e-mail project

Department of Veterans Affairs cancels five-year contract

The federal government’s Department of Veterans Affairs has nixed a five-year $36 million contract to move to a hosted e-mail platform.

It’s unclear why the VA cancelled the contract, but according to a report in Federal Computer Week the department basically changed its mind, citing “material changes” in agency requirements.

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The VA reportedly hired HP Enterprise Services in November 2012 after initially requesting contract proposals in February 2011; so, the VA had been studying this move for more than a year. The plan was to move up to 600,000 e-mail accounts into a hosted Microsoft platform, with HP doing the systems integration work. FCW reports that only test accounts were actually moved to the cloud-based platform before the contract was cancelled. The debacle could cost the government about $150,000 plus termination fees. The Veterans Administration has not yet provided additional information about why the contract was cancelled.

The federal government has been slowly migrating services to cloud-based and hosted resources, particularly since a Cloud First policy has been instituted. According to the General Services Administration, “the Cloud First policy mandates that agencies take full advantage of cloud computing benefits to maximize capacity utilization, improve IT flexibility and responsiveness, and minimize cost.”

The GSA works with federal departments to implement cloud initiatives, including hosted E-mail as a Service (EaaS) projects.Amazon Web Services won a $600 million contract to build a private cloud for the CIA, which IBM later protested.

As the VA is backing away from plans to move to the cloud, other federal agencies are jumping full bore in.

Network World senior writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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