US government agencies will soon be able to use infrastructure-as-a-service offerings from companies including AT&T, Amazon Web Services and Verizon.
On Tuesday, the US General Services Administration said it has contracted 11 companies to provide IaaS to federal, state, local and tribal governments. Agencies will be able to buy hosted storage, virtual machines and Web services from the vendors through Apps.gov, a portal where government entities can shop for approved cloud services.
The services aren't available at the portal just yet. The GSA has awarded the contracts but the services must first be approved through the GSA's Certification and Accreditation process, which includes the stringent FISMA security authorisation required for serving federal agencies. The time frame for that approval process varies, said Sahar Wali, a spokeswoman for the GSA.
Amazon is partnering with Apptis, an integrator that serves the government, to offer its IaaS services. Microsoft, which partnered with IT services company Insight Public Sector, is also among the list of approved vendors. Microsoft did not immediately reply to a question about which of its services it will sell through the program.
Other contracted companies include CGI Federal; Computer Technologies Consultants in partnership with Softlayer; Eyak Tech; General Dynamics Information Technology in partnership with Carpathia; and Savvis Federal Systems.
In a statement, the GSA said the government spends tens of billions of dollars every year on IT and that the cloud infrastructure services can help agencies reduce costs and improve efficiencies.
IaaS lets users run applications without having to buy on-premise hardware and software. They can typically start using the services immediately, by ordering them online. It has proved helpful to developers who want to test applications that have spikes in traffic.