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Which model do you prefer?

Which model do you prefer?

Suppose there is a software application that is critical to the effective performance of your job’s requirements.

Suppose that application is accessed via a web browser.

All things being equal, in terms of security, reliability, performance, and support, do you prefer that:

1. The application is licensed from a commercial vendor and is hosted and maintained at one of your agency’s data centers; or
2. The application is accessed from a commercial vendor’s data center, and is paid for on an as-needed and as-you-go basis.

Suppose further that option 1 costs $10 million per year for licenses and contractor support for 1,000 users throughout your agency. Suppose option 2 costs $3 million per year for 1,000 users.

Again, all things being equal, which model do you prefer?

Of course, option 1 is the traditional approach to implementing and supporting commercial software applications within government agencies.

Option 2 could be called “B2G” SaaS, or business-to-government software-as-a-service.

Many IT visionaries are convinced that SaaS represents the future for much of “B2B” (business-to-business) and “B2C” (business-to-consumer) software solutions. But who is out there talking about the big future of B2G SaaS?

One proponent is White House CIO Steve Van Roekel, In his “Digital Government” roadmap, he says “Agencies must begin to look first to shared solutions and existing infrastructure when developing new projects, rather than procuring new infrastructure and systems for each new project.”

Of course, the reason for this guidance and direction is that shared solutions and infrastructure tend to be far more cost-effective than self-developed and self-maintained systems.

So if your agency is looking for a new software solution, it should first look for existing, shared solutions that meet the requirements.

Over time, as more and more common requirements can be met via shared solutions from commercial vendors, B2G SaaS will become commonplace in government. After all, why should government agencies be in the IT business?

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