GSA expects to reduce the cloud acquisition burdens of its customer agencies and lower provider administration costs through its new cloud BPA program, which has now been given the name “ASCEND”.  GSA believes that the Schedules-based BPA approach will enable it to work closely with individual customers to tailor specific solutions more easily than they could do through a larger, stand-alone contract.  “We’ve gone away from buying kind of single-cloud environments that are going to solve a particular pain point or business problem for the agencies, to now having to acquire multiple cloud service solutions that are working in an ecosystem together, along with the services that are needed to integrate them and make them, deploy them, secure them, monitor and manage them,” said FAS Commissioner Sonny Hashmi earlier this week in an article originally appearing on Federal News NetworkThe ASCEND BPA’s will be established against existing Multiple Award Schedule contracts, meaning that contractors that want to participate must have cloud solutions on their schedule contracts by the time the RFP is issued, or be able to partner with a company that does.  ASCEND is still in the market research phase with both an upcoming industry date planned and a draft RFP.  GSA previously sent out an RFI earlier this year that received strong contractor feedback, including comments from small businesses.  The agency wants both customer and contractor input and appears to be providing time for each with no set acquisition timetable having been announced so far.  Hashmi did admit that there already many existing contracts through which federal agencies can buy cloud services, but GSA believes that the flexible, yet multi-purpose, nature of ASCEND’s solutions will make it a popular cloud vehicle.