We’ve all drunk the Kool-Aid and believe in using the cloud.
And with almost 1 million active apps alone in the Apple Store it is no wonder why.
The cloud can create amazing opportunities for shared services and cost efficiencies.
The problem is that many are using the cloud at the edge.
They are taking the cloud to mean that they in government are simply service brokers, rather than accountable service providers.
In the service broker model, CIOs and leaders look for the best, cost effective service to use.
However, in NOT recognizing that they are the ultimate service providers for their customers, they are trying to outsource accountability and effectiveness.
Take for example, the recent failures of Healthcare.gov, there were at least 55 major contractors involved, but no major end-to-end testing done by HHS.
We can’t outsource accountability–even though the cloud and outsourcing is tempting many to do just that.
Secretary Sebelius has said that the buck stops with her, but in the 3 1/2 years leading up to the rollout relied on the big technology cloud in the sky to provide the solution.
Moreover, while Sebelius as the business owner is talking responsibility for the mission failures of the site, isn’t it the CIO who should be addressing the technology issues as well?
IT contractors and cloud providers play a vital role in helping the government develop and maintain our technology, but at the end of the day, we in the government are responsible to our mission users.
The relationship is one of partners in problem solving and IT product and service provision, rather than service brokers moving data from one cloud provider to the next, where a buck can simply be saved regardless of whether mission results, stability and security are at risk.
In fact, Bloomberg BusinessWeek outlines the 3 successful principles used in the creation of consumerfinance.gov by the new CFPB, and it includes: “Have in-house strategy, design, and tech”!
Some in government say we cannot attract good IT people.
Maybe true, if we continue to freeze salaries, cut benefits, furlough employees, and take away the zest and responsibility for technology solutions from our own very talented technologists.
Government must be a place where we can attract technology talent, so we can identify requirements with our customers, work with partners on solutions, and tailors COTS, GOTS, open source solutions and cloud services to our mission needs.
When Sebelius was asked on The Hill about whether Healthcare.gov crashed, she said it never crashed, which was technically incorrect as the site was down.
The cloud is great source for IT provision, but the pendulum is swinging too far and fast, and it will by necessity come back towards the center, where it belongs as an opportunity, not a compliance mandate.
Hopefully, this will happen before too many CIOs gut the technology know-how they do have and the accountability they should provide.
(Adapted from my blog at www.andyblumenthal.com)