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Former Government Official Calls Cloud Computing and Web 2.0 “Fads”

by Andrea Di Maio  |  August 13, 2009  |  5 Comments

A few days ago I read a provocative article published on Federal Computer Week by Michael Daconta, currently CTO at Accelerated Information Management LLC and former Metadata Program Manager for the Department of Homeland Security.

The article singles out six technology trends (or fads) that, in the author’s view, have questionable value for government. I just want to comment on his top two picks.

The first one is cloud computing. The author says

Cloud computing is a red herring. Chasing this fad now, before standards are in place and security concerns are dealt with, is a complete waste of time. Also, it still needs to be sorted out whether cloud computing is primarily a utility-based hosting solution, a new application-development model, or both. Although Web 2.0 start-ups can afford the risk associated with these desired IT cost savings, the government should take a wait-and-see attitude

While caution is certainly needed, Michael seems to lose sight of two important issues. First of all, cloud computing stimulates a necessary process of commoditization, which allows agencies to focus on what is mission-specific to them and rely on common infrastructure or applications, getting rid the “I am unique” attitude used to far. Secondly, for state and local authorities that are under major budgetary constraints, public cloud services may be the only way to continue operating.

Then he gets to Web 2.0, saying:

Web 2.0 is not pixie dust. Anyone who has witnessed a crazed mob of sports fans on an alcohol-induced rampage would agree that crowds are not always wise. In the same way, Web 2.0 technologies are not a panacea nor should they be the No. 1 priority for government IT. Web 2.0 should be relegated to areas that tap its strength, which is primarily nonattributed commentary and workgroup collaboration

This looks like a rather narrow view, as web 2.0 is transforming service delivery and operations already today, let alone what’s going to happen in the future. However, it is one of those uncomfortable technologies for which governments will not be in control (employees and citizens will), so I understand the temptation of ignoring it.

After all, Michael’s resume shows that he has been instrumental in the development of both the Federal Enterprise Architecture Data Reference Model (DRM) and the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM). Not surprisingly he advocates the development of data standards to government and not to the market.

How can he possibly like commoditization of government technology and loss of control? And – by the way – what’s the success rate for whole-of-government enterprise architecture and interoperability endeavors?

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Category: cloud  web-20-in-government  

Tags: enterprise-architecture  

Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
19 years at Gartner
33 years IT industry

Andrea Di Maio is a managing vice president for public sector in Gartner Research, covering government and education. His personal research focus is on digital government strategies, open government, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Former Government Official Calls Cloud Computing and Web 2.0 “Fads”

  1. […] is the original: Ex-Government Official Calls Cloud Computing and Web 2.0 “Fads” […]

  2. Brian Ahier says:

    Andrea will you be attending the Gov 2.0 Summit?

    You would bring a lot of value to the conversation…

  3. Look back to the beginning of the electric grid, it wasn’t until standards were in place that it really took off. Are we far off? I don’t believe we are as far off as some believe. In the energy sector here in Calgary, Canada we have had a number of cloud services, some going back 10 years. But, security is still a challenge!

    What will be the standard security offering? It will have to be some sort of multifactor authentication because username and passwords are no longer good enough.

    Also, if a major security breach occurs…well cloud based computing could be sidelined with a bunch of old time IT professionals saying “I told you so”

    Stuart Crawford
    Bulletproof InfoTech
    Calgary, AB

  4. @Brian:
    I am afraid I won’t

  5. ricom says:

    Cloud computing, the dynamic datacenter.

    Cloud computing helps to increase the speed at which applications are deployed, helping to increase the pace of innovated networked computing. Service deployed applications; Cloud computing can be provided using an enterprise datacenter’s own servers, or it can be provided by a cloud provider that takes all of the capital risk of owning the infrastructure.

    Cloud computing incorporates virtualization, data and application on-demand deployment, internet delivery of services, and open source software. Virtualization enables a dynamic datacenter where servers provide resources that are utilized as needed with resources changing dynamically in order to meet the needed workload.

    The combination of virtual machines and virtual appliances used for server deployment objects is one of the key features of cloud computing. Additionally, company’s can merge a storage cloud that provides a virtualized storage platform and is managed through an API, or Web-based interfaces for file management, and application data deployments.

    Layered Service providers offering pay-by-use cloud computing solutions can be adjacent to company’s equipment leases. Public clouds are run by third party service providers and applications from different customers are likely to be mixed together on the cloud’s servers, storage systems, and networks. Private clouds are built for the exclusive use of one client, providing the utmost control over data, security, and quality of service. Private clouds can also be built and managed by a company’s own IT administrator. Hybrid clouds combine both public and private cloud models which may be used to handle planned workload spikes, or storage clouds configuration. Dedicated audits for security policies are a must.

    The benefits of deploying applications using cloud computing include reducing run time and response time, minimizing the purchasing and deployment of physical infrastructure. Considerations for Energy efficiency, flexibility, simplified systems administration, pricing based on consumption, and most of all limiting the footprint of the data center. For further information on virtualized solutions:

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