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Will Government Agencies Shun Cloud Computing?

As Agencies Upgrade Mainframes, It May be Just a Matter of Semantics

Application modernization “allows agencies to upgrade their legacy systems without replacing or rewriting core mission-critical applications, which can be expensive, risky, and time consuming."

These are the words of Ken Powell of Micro Focus North America, which specializes in software for enterprise application modernization, as originally reported in Government Computer News (GCN).

From this statement flows the logic that Cloud Computing may be seen as too risky--and therefore, too expensive and time-consuming if its deployment doesn't go well.

Well, one would hate to think that any government agency would be over-spending or taking too much time to do something. But I think there is a good point to be made here

The GCN report alludes to what it calls an informal survey in which almost three in four respondents say they are planning to build "application modernization" into their budgets, within the next six months to two years, but only 6 percent saying they planned to adopt cloud computing.

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In a separate informal survey based on my recollections of interactions with government agencies, a majority of respondents said that someday they may try that new-fangled AOL electronic mail thingie and try to buy a car online once they get a bangin' new 56kbps modem installed on their 486-based microcomputer.

The reality is government has a funding mechanism and mission that is diametrically opposed to business (which is why trying to run government "like a business" never works). Government agencies must provide specified services to a specified audience, and it must not let its information fall into the hands of anyone who is not specifically authorized by law.

Government agencies' highly regulated missions don't allow for creative marketing ideas like Refer a Friend/Get $100, and the mindset sticks to what it believes is the tried and true. An overcautious approach can certainly be the riskiest approach in business, but not so in government. Thus, companies such as Micro Focus, which has its US office in the Washington, DC area, will no doubt find from its surveys, informal and formal, a predisposition among its customers for what the company is already selling to them.

But that does not rule out Cloud Computing entirely. To me, this could be a simple manner of semantics. Cloud Computing is an evolved form of centralized (ie, mainframe) computing by another name. It is not tradtional mainframe computing, but perhaps government agnecies should be thinking more of how it can upgrade its applications to work faster, smarter, and egads, maybe cheaper, by looking into private cloud approaches.

 

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Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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