Buzz of the Week

Apps.gov: Kundra is ready for a fight

It’s Vivek Kundra versus the government bureaucracy, and the information technology industry can’t wait to see who wins

It’s Vivek Kundra versus the government bureaucracy, and the information technology industry can’t wait to see who wins.

At stake is nothing less than the federal government’s decades-old acquisition process and its $75 billion IT budget. If the federal chief information officer has his way, that process will finally be forced to accommodate the Web-based economy, and as a result, the government’s IT budget will shrink considerably.

That was the upshot of the mainstream IT press’s coverage of last week’s unveiling of Apps.gov, the Obama administration’s much-anticipated online technology storefront.

Apps.gov is based on the cloud-computing model, in which organizations access software via the Web and pay for it as a service rather than downloading it onto their own servers.

The appeal of that approach is that an organization buys only what it needs rather than stockpiling software licenses, and it avoids the cost of hosting and managing the software and all the associated data.

However, the idea of government data floating out there in the cloud might give some federal IT security managers a serious case of the willies. Cloud computing also requires a change in how agencies budget for and buy technology because they are paying for a service, not a fixed product.

“It will be tough for Kundra to bang enough heads together to make real and permanent changes in federal IT, but it's what President Obama hired him to do, and he seems to be off to a good start,” wrote David Coursey, a blogger at PC World. “Now the warring with government agencies can begin in earnest.”

Kundra said the shift to the cloud-computing paradigm could take a long time, and others agreed.

"There will be resistance for years to come, predicated upon culture," Bruce Hart, a former deputy CIO at the CIA, told Robert McMillan of the IDG News Service.

Opponents of the initiative are certain to cite concerns about security. "We're going to see the word 'security' used as the counter-ammunition to his initiatives," said Hart, now chief operations officer at data-center company Terremark Worldwide.

Nearly every report noted the presence of Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, at Kundra’s press conference. As one of the most prominent vendors championing the cloud-computing model, Google is no casual bystander in this initiative.

“With a customer as large as the U.S. government, this is a coup for Google, which has been trying to push Google Apps adoption in the enterprise,” wrote Computerworld’s Sharon Gaudin. “Having major government agencies willing to depend on Google for Web-based applications is quite an advertisement for the company's wares.”

Incidentally, Google announced last week that it would tailor its Google Apps cloud-computing offerings to meet government security requirements by certifying the software and hiring employees with security clearances.

But many other companies have a vested interest in seeing Kundra succeed, particularly in the current economic climate.

“If the government embraces a long-term, widespread adoption of new technology, it not only finds some cost savings but also pumps much-needed revenue into the hardware, software and Internet companies out there,” wrote Sam Diaz for ZDNet.

As eager as vendors are, they might find themselves answering a lot of questions before they get to the stage of taking orders. For example, vendors can assure customers that their systems are secure, but how do they write such assurances into a contract?

“Users who ship data to the cloud will need contractual guarantees that it will be maintained with the same level of security as it was in-house, but neither vendors nor users are sure yet how such guarantees can be made,” wrote InformationWeek’s Charles Babcock. “The owner of the data remains responsible if it is lost or misused, and it remains unclear how much of that responsibility, if any, can be shifted to a cloud supplier.”

Other questions have arisen about the availability and reliability of cloud systems and the prospects of an organization “being locked into a single cloud provider,” Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group, told Computerworld.

Let the battle begin.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Sun, Sep 20, 2009 Washington, DC

It is interesting that security is brought up as a major concern. Let's take a look at the current state and approach of security now. In reading through all the FCW, GCN, and Washington Technology articles over the past years, it clearly indicates that the government has major challenges with protecting data with the traditional model. From lost laptops containing PII, to thumb drives, to sensitive data being sent unencrypted, to major government systems being hacked, to email systems systems being used as an attack vector, to email being down for both planned maintenance and unplanned outages, to unpatched systems, it would seem these would be the very reasons to move to proven cloud computing vendor and companies with a security track record in this field. Few examples of federal government past history: http://www.governmentexecutive.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=39456&dcn=todaysnews http://www.fcw.com/Articles/2009/05/13/Web-DHS-HSIN-intrusion-hack.aspx http://www.fcw.com/Articles/2009/04/21/Pentagon-computers-hacked.aspx http://www.fcw.com/print/11_24/news/89175-1.html

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group