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 Government Technology Comes to the Cloud

Apps.gov | Step 1 to Government Cloud Computing a Reality

With the release of Apps.gov, the GSA and federal CIO Vivek Kundra have demonstrated their undeniable intent to promote both increased utilization and accelerated procurement for cloud computing applications. Apps.gov, which launched September 15, looks like a B2C storefront for the procurement of turnkey cloud computing services. The e-commerce portal delivers shopping cart functionality and a streamlined click-to-order process for business systems, productivity applications, social media tools and cloud-based IT services.

In an effort to clearly set expectations, cloud computing chief evangelist Vivek Kundra suggested that apps.gov was built on top of GSA Schedule 70 in order to accelerate go-live and comply with federal procurement policy. Apps.gov is managed by GSA CIO Casey Coleman. According to Coleman, apps.gov “is not the final solution … It’s the beginning of the final solution.” To date, no contracts have yet been issued on apps.gov, however, software technology and cloud computing vendors were in large part caught off guard with the sudden web site release and are now scrambling to get their software as a service (SaaS) solutions listed on what is to become the most touted cloud computing storefront.

apps.gov

In reality, the initial release of apps.gov simply puts a 20th century user interface on the decade old GSA Advantage government procurement vehicle. While a good first step, additional steps are needed for this federal procurement website to evolve into a one stop government procurement site for commercial applications and services. For example, including a cloud-based sandbox to permit trials as well as social media integration to support commenting, ratings and other user generated content would significantly improve the user experience and procurement process.

More than just an e-commerce platform, Apps.gov is a continuation of the administration’s agenda in promoting efficiency, effectiveness and transparency. At the September 15 apps.gov announcement, Kundra commented that, “The President has challenged us to make sure that we are utilizing technology to ensure that we have a transparent and open government” and the newly unveiled website is part of a continuation to that vision. Nonetheless, while an admirable vision, unless Kundra and his colleagues can address a bloated procurement process and the glacial pace of government IT procurement, apps.gov will achieve little more than web site window dressing and ultimately lose its luster. The delivery of an impressive innovation must now be followed with procurement reform which aligns procurement policy with the advancements available from cloud computing in a way that promotes the administration’s agenda and the people’s business.

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READER COMMENTS

By Theressa Coleman
Do you know the criteria for software products to be listed on Apps.gov?

I believe the two criteria include being listed on the GSA Schedule and being a cloud computing solution. While being on the GSA Schedule is clear, I suspect we'll see ambiguity with regard to what constitutes a cloud computing solution. I am hopeful GSA will apply the NIST definition of cloud computing, which effectively outlines five essential characteristics.

  1. On-demand self-service. Consumers can procure and provision, as well as dial up and dial down, the infrastructure and service without IT involvement.
  2. Network access. The services are accessed with standard browsers from desktop computers, mobile phones or laptop PCs.
  3. Resource pooling. Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions leverage a shared services computing model. Physical and virtual computing resources are assigned and reassigned based on demand.
  4. Rapid elasticity. The IT services appear unlimited to the consumer and can be rapidly changed or scaled, in some cases automatically, based on user demand.
  5. Measured services. Cloud systems control and optimize the use of computing resources through automated resource allocation, load balancing and metering tools.

apps.gov

By anonymous
This doesn't look any different than GSA.

Admittedly, apps.gov simply segments cloud computing solutions in a new and much needed user presentation. However, I think it is important to recognize that the September 15 release is only step one one the administration's IT journey. GSA has indicated that the initial release will grow to include cloud computing services such as computer processing capacity and online storage that are not available through GSA Advantage.

gsa

By Daniel C.
Is this site limited to Government users?

Although the site is publicly available, the storefront only accepts government-issued purchase cards.

Send comments to blog[at]Vantivemedia.com.

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