Cloudy day at the White House

On September 15th the White House announced  Apps.gov with this exciting sentence: “Now, Even the Government Has an App Store .
Actually, Apps.gov is a marketplace for acquisition of (definition taken by Apps.gov site FAQs):
“…convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction”.
Despite the information available on FAQs clarifies the big picture behind the initiative some important details remain obscure (to me at least).
Many of us would expect the adoption of this kind of services in the Gov sector, and this was actually happening in the US as well as worldwide, but, almost anyone, could expect an  embracement to happen in this form.
I would expect Government agencies to run private gov national *aaS infrastructures (possibly deriving from existing data centers being gradually networked) being consolidated in time and being empowered ideally and hopefully from Free software, at least from open source software (in line with transparency efforts). This is simply not happening.

original credits @ random letters - jessiemoore

original credits @ random letters - jessiemoore

What deals with Free software & transparency better than the gov sector? isn’t it a matter of freedom when we talk of an efficient public sector, independent from software services industry giants? Instead, what we see is the GSA stating who’s good and who’s bad in the *aaS industry.

Why do not use the stimulus that the Government can put on the industry at least to dictate a transparency standard as the  GNU AGPL License?

If you look here you’ll see a list of (free) services. For sure, some of them could represent a benefit to the productivity of the Gov sector but, for sure, all those services have a business model: what if this model changes ending up with a cost where something was free, how to control the impact on budgets?
Have anybody analyzed how data lock in could affect administration budget? Ok, critical data will be kept outside the cloud: not critical data kept in the cloud will be, for sure, subject to some sort of data lock in (data lock in is one of the main business drivers for social\*aaS apps, isn’t it?).
Did anybody made a long term assessment of the effects? Is there any strategy behind this, apart from lowering the amount of investments needed in the short term? Are we sure that the TCO will be lesser than with a strategically driven initiative, trying to keep things transparent, based on Free software and injecting innovation into the SW development community?

It’s true that we’re exiting the SOA bubble era but, it’s undubitable, that some sort of application orchestration that is recently being embodied by BPM and portals is useful to productivity and efficiency. How this is impacted by the *aaS paradigm? I’m afraid that, at a given point, the need of applications/service interwork, instead of favouring open standards will end up in an even harder provider lock in.

Do you remember that during the first post-election press conference made by President Obama, he was flanked by Eric Schmidt?  Politico.com gave this lucid statement:
“Google CEO Eric Schmidt didn’t say anything as he flanked President-elect Barack Obama during his first post-election press conference. He didn’t have to.
The image alone of Schmidt standing elbow-to-elbow with Obama’s top economic thinkers was enough to send shivers up the spine of Google’s competitors.”
I’ve not been surprised when Google expressed appreciation:
“The cloud is coming of age, and we applaud the Obama Administration’s efforts to ensure our government realizes its many advantages
Google is also working the FISMA certification needed to be on Google Apps. The global Google gov initiative is optimally recapped by Chloe Albanesius on PCMag.
At the end, what surprise me much, is the, almost total, lack of discussion on this topic: take a look to apps.gov on google trends and compare it with other hot topics.

I continue reading so much enthusiastic comments: there’s a big chance this initiative will be followed by potentially any Government agency worldwide, does anybody share my concerns?
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About meedabyte

Strategist, Consultant and Collaborative Pathfinder

2 comments

  1. Pingback: New values, ten years after the dot.com bubble | Nuovi valori a dieci anni dalla bolla dot.com «

  2. Pingback: Interviewing Richard Stallman: Freedom in the time of SaaS «

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