Because they get special consideration for government work, these small businesses can serve as a ticket in the door to federal contracts for larger, more established tech vendors. Thus, Dell has piggybacked on Autonomic Resources to offer IaaS on Apps.gov, and three other vendors -- Electrosoft, XO Communications, and Secure Networks -- have teamed with Computer Literacy World.
Just how these partnerships of convenience work in practice remains to be seen. Do these small businesses have the experience required to deliver secure, reliable, and scalable cloud services to Uncle Sam? Their track records in the cloud services market -- if they exist at all -- are hard to ascertain.
I tried to get background information on Computer Literacy World, but I was unable to find a company Web site and the company didn’t return my phone call. I did get through to XO Communications -- one of Computer Literacy World’s partners -- but XO didn't respond to my questions about Computer Literacy World. Nor, for that matter, did XO comment on its own role in the cloud alliance.
(Computer Literacy World already offers cloud storage, data transfer bandwidth, and virtual servers on Apps.gov as “business processes.” It remains to be seen if the company’s IaaS services will be new and different. My guess is they’re not.)
The risk of course is that the cloud services offered on Apps.gov will fall short of government requirements because they’re being offered by prime contractors with little cloud experience and/or in newly formed alliances where partners are stitching together cloud services for the first time. At a pivotal time in federal adoption of commercial cloud services, there’s little margin for error.