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U.S. Department of Agriculture solicits new data centre hosting

Tue 20 Dec 2016

The United States Department of Agriculture has issued a Request For Information (RFI) to potential providers, with a view to establishing costs for a data centre migration.

The RFI indicates that the department is open-minded about the destination technologies and types of services in a potential migration, inviting different estimates across 19 different application and deployment scenarios. It also expresses interest in solutions that integrate traditional hosting services with cloud services.

Any proposed cloud solutions will need to work well with USDA’s implementation of HSPD-12, the Personal Identity Verification (PIV) system which issues LincPass cards and online IDs, renewable either every three or five years.

Though the RFI does not mandate current Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) status for providers, current legislation and practice indicates that obtaining this would be a prerequisite for fulfilment.

The USDA’s Data Center Operations (DCO) runs the National Information Technology Center (NITC), which includes Enterprise DC facilities in in Maryland, Missouri, Kansas City and Saint Louis.

The three current main Enterprise facilities used by the Department of Agriculture are in Kansas City, Saint Louis and Beltsville in Maryland. The Kansas City production site is a Tier IV fault-tolerant build. The Saint Louis site is a Tier III concurrently maintainable operation. The Beltsville site is a base Tier I setup with a single non-redundant distribution path, and with entirely non-redundant capacity.

NITC has been a federated data centre service provider since 1973, subsequently performing a number of 1980s DC migrations. It provides services across 14 federal departments, and its Enterprise Data Center offering is a from-scratch federal cloud services provisioning entity which has done much – unusually in the U.S. and more so perhaps in the next four years – to promote responsible environmental practices in its data centre operations.


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