Kolcun: Software 2.0

Microsoft and others can no longer dictate how organizations will use their software

We’re at the beginning of a new era that will shape how the government thinks about software in the enterprise. The next decade will be one of software transformation marked by new ways of using technology to meet the government’s mission.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about an emerging category of software, commonly referred to as on-demand software or software as a service. However, software of the future will not favor one delivery model over the other. We will see a hybrid model of software plus services. That model will seamlessly combine the best of desktop PC, Internet and Web, mission-critical enterprise, and mobile computing experiences.

Government chief information officers and their information technology organizations deliver great software services to their enterprise users. Examples include messaging services and directory services, which span the vast government enterprise. Microsoft continues to transform its platform and product offerings to support the delivery of those services and enable the government to take advantage of Internet-scale solutions delivered via commercial networks.

Agencies have a choice of how they want those software services delivered to their employees. Those options fall into three key areas.

  • Cloud-based services. These are capabilities, typically delivered via the Internet, that take advantage of the scale of Internet-based commercial data centers to provide software solutions and a Web platform on which to build custom applications. For example, several companies today offer geospatial Web services solutions to customers via the commercial Internet.

  • Managed hosted services. This approach typically accommodates current government solutions and investments while providing agencies the security, scale and cost effectiveness necessary to meet their pressing demands. These hosted services reside outside government data centers. Commercial companies that have been accredited for meeting government security and regulatory requirements provide the services.

  • On-premises services. This option is the traditional software service delivery model in which government data centers and IT organizations provide solutions. This software services delivery model provides the customization, security and control that enable an organization to tailor its solutions to meet the needs of the agency and its users.

Software plus services offers the government an unprecedented degree of flexibility. It provides a foundation for cross-agency collaboration and integrating existing systems capabilities and new capabilities via Web services standards.

If we reflect on how far the software industry has come and where it is going, we realize that now is an exciting time. The past decade has been about embracing the Internet revolution. The coming decade will be about embracing the Web services revolution and working side-by-side with government customers to help them maximize the opportunities that come with software plus services.

Kolcun is vice president of Microsoft Federal.

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