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Government Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Dana Gardner, Gopala Krishna Behara

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Achieving Government consolidation through Hybrid SaaS model

Next month I’ll be speaking at the OMG Public Sector Cloud Council Summit, on a topic of ‘Hybrid SaaS – Platform for Software as a Service in the Public Sector’.

This will enable some government agencies to provide applications on a SaaS basis to other agencies, and to make this relevant to real-world projects today, it’s the approach that is key to the type of consolidation that would be really useful to the goals of initiatives like the Drummond Report or Shared Services Canada.

We can give a simple demonstration of how this consolidation is achieved by looking at procurement patterns.

For example one interesting category of software is e-procurement, ranging right through contract management to professional services organization, and also to new e-marketplace models (Reverse auction etc.), accounting, procurement and project management with Oracle ERP integration for Sourcing-to-payment approvals workflows, etc.

The government was active last year in looking at thes areas – Relevant projects include the Federal Government looking for a eProcurement and contract Management solution, as well as the provinces of Alberta and Ontario.

Does each of these government units actually require their own dedicated contract management software? Really? Does each one really need to plod through yet another heavy RFP selection, test, deploy, zzzz.. Wouldn’t it just be better to have it SaaS’d and ready to go in weeks?

The Drummond report calls for this type of duplicated backoffice function to be consolidated and ideally outsourced to third party providers where further cost efficiencies can be achieved, and this role will be facilitated by this concept of ‘Government Cloud Hubs’.

Ie. a certain type of ‘G-Cloud’ data centre with a SaaS platform dedicated to Government apps, so that they can avoid this type of software duplication by sharing common apps, like e-procurement, via a SaaS approach instead.

Or strictly speaking, a ‘Hybrid SaaS’ with the fact it’s semi-private, restricted only to Government users.

Digital City Roadmap

Furthermore the Drummond Report and all other transformation recommendation reports, calls for modernization of the technology and process too. In the Open Government era this means making both the data and the software open and re-programmable by the citizens.

For example relevant to this e-procurement scenario in March 2011 the Canadian Government issued an RFI requesting input on how their ‘GETS’ (Government Electronic Tendering System) might be modernized, the MERX e-procurement site. Their current technology for it is quite dated and limited, and so they see potential for new options that could deliver enhancements such as:

· New models for online RFP postings
· Simplifying access to business opportunities
· Increase services delivered to procurement stakeholders
· More use of social media, like Twitter for notifications

This type of thinking is exactly right. Recently we reviewed the City of New York’s ‘Digital City Roadmap‘, a strategy for a city to adopt Cloud Computing and Open Data, and it revealed their general focus on cultivating more local innovation through supporting small tech startups.

As part of their program to grow the Entrepreneur and Developer Community they identified the following top 5 wish list from private sector technology entrepreneurs:

1. Engineering Talent
2. Broadband Connectivity
3. Real-time API of NYC Data and Services
4. Faster Procurement Process
5. Visibility of RFPs

In short the real impact areas for public sector Cloud adoption is in these catalyst areas. Ie. If they speed up procurement and make it more accessible to open data developers, then they will improve their ability to implement procurement itself at a lower cost, while also feeding their local entrepreneurial ecosystem.


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