Original Post Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Recently I was interviewed by Doug Beizer of Federal  Computer Weekly for an article about the shift of government agencies away from custom software development and towards the use of cloud computing.  The interest in this topic seemed to stem from the introduction of Apps.gov online store earlier this month.
 
Having been in the software cost estimation community for more than 25 years, I have experienced this transition first hand but never really stopped to think about the whys and wherefores until questioned by Doug.  It was an interesting stroll down memory lane.  As an example, just think for a minute about how much communication has changed.  When Ifirst started working if I needed to discuss something with a co-worker or friend I either needed to pick up the phone or pick myself up out of my chair and go talk to them.  If I wanted to leave a paper trail – I actually needed to use paper.  There was no internet, no e-mail, and certainly no social networking.  Like everyone else, government agencies needed to develop custom application to meet specific communication, networking and other needs.  Because the government had many communication needs – both on the business and mission side – government agencies became a leader in developing these types of applications.
 
With the advent of the Internet and ever evolving forms of social networking, the commercial sector has been forced to get really good at developing communication software – so good that the government agencies are now looking more and more to the commercial sector and the cloud for such capabilities.  Not to say that all government needs can be solved with commercial solutions, but many more so than back in the day.  And while communication capabilities are my favorite example, let’s face the fact that there’s a lot of software out there– many of it that’s completely adequate (if not superior) to meet the needs of the government.