CIO Richard Spires: Replacing commodity IT is a bigger task than it seems

The Homeland Security Department is getting closer to rolling out its workplace-as-a-service pilot, but it’s not the only new business model the agency is looking to embrace.

Speaking at the Federal Senior Management Conference in Cambridge, Md., DHS CIO Richard Spires said the department plans to launch the workplace-as-a-service initiative this summer. The model bundles virtual desktops with a suite of mobile device capabilities under one single security model, with the user paying just one monthly fee.

“This is an interesting business model, for the government, and something I think is transformational,” said Spires, who first announced the workplace-as-a-service approach in October 2011. Back then, he said the pilot was slated for launch in early 2012.

Speculating about the future of commodity IT and what other functions -- aside e-mail and infrastructure -- would fall under that umbrella term, Spires said DHS is going to roll out customer relationship management as a service and business intelligence as a service.

“Are those commodities? Well, we’re kind of getting there,” he said. “Obviously, you got to configure the systems [and] you’ve got to use [business intelligence] tools to build your own reporting capability. But out there is a service offering that analysts across the enterprise can buy and use as they need rather than go out and buy licensed products, [which] takes months and months to do.”

Back-office functions in areas such as finance and human resources are “the most natural ones” to follow suit and become more of a commodity in the near future, Spires said.

“In the next five years, you’re going to see organizations offer true end-to-end business services in the cloud,” he said. “Maybe private clouds or, if you will, various cloud service providers who offer different services [will] come together in a consortium model to truly offer end-to-end back-office business functions to the federal government."

 

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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