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5/29/2007
11:32 AM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
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US Government Not Hot on SaaS

A recent Red Herring article By Eydie Cubarrubia… came to the conclusion that: "On-demand software isn't so hot in the government sector."… I'm tracking with this as well. In my recent dealings with the government, there does not seem to be an interest in SaaS. Why? Well, the government agencies feel that SaaS does not relate to them because of security concerns and, most of all, that their long procurement processes don't lead toward SaaS.

This article By Eydie Cubarrubia highlighted a recent survey showing that a surprising number of public sector IT workers are pushing back on SaaS, coming to the conclusion that:

"On-demand software isn't so hot in the government sector. Two surveys released Thursday revealed that more than a third of respondents 'were slightly or not at all familiar with the emerging software-as-a-service business model.' The survey went on to say that 'Internet-based software will be used by government agencies only in 'small niche' areas.'"

"The surveys, conducted by GCN (Government Computing News), a government information technology news publication, and Government Futures, a government industry research firm, should serve as a warning that the SaaS sector cannot afford to rest on its laurels."

I'm tracking with this as well. In my recent dealings with the government, there does not seem to be an interest in SaaS. Why? Well, the government agencies feel that SaaS does not relate to them because of security concerns and, most of all, that their long procurement processes don't lead toward SaaS.Others are finding this as well. According to the article, Gartner estimates that worldwide SaaS revenue will increase from about $6.3 billion in 2006 to $19.3 billion in 2011, but security and compatibility issues remain concerns among would-be users. The fact is, there are a portion of companies and organizations out there that won't run software on servers they can't see, and they cite security issues as their primary excuse… err… concern.

"A majority of respondents had negative perceptions of Saas when asked about increased security risks, increased exposure of private information, and difficulties in integrating across multiple providers or with existing systems."

The real issue is education.

"A surprising number, however, weren't all that familiar with Saas. A total of 37.04 percent of respondents said they either 'have heard of' SaaS or that it was 'new to me' - as opposed to being 'very familiar' or 'somewhat familiar' with it."

This is the larger problem, if you ask me. SaaS is a relatively new approach, and the rank-and-file in government have not done a good job in consider SaaS as an option, or even understanding what the heck it is. Perhaps the SaaS providers should do a better job of getting the word out inside the larger agencies where SaaS has the biggest opportunity.

Most agencies would find a huge value in SaaS, if given the chance. Many agency business processes are standard, and given the distributed nature of these agencies, they would save millions, considering the application delivery mechanism of the Web would be much more efficient.

As far as security goes, it's always funny to me how those who don't like SaaS cite security concerns when at the same time they are loosing laptops with confidential or secrete information at the rate of two a day. Seems to me that the information is much safer locked up inside of Salesforce.com's data center… but I don't work for the government. Application integration and service oriented architecture expert David Linthicum heads the product development, implementation and strategy consulting firm The Linthicum Group. Write him at david@linthicumgroup.com.A recent Red Herring article By Eydie Cubarrubia… came to the conclusion that: "On-demand software isn't so hot in the government sector."… I'm tracking with this as well. In my recent dealings with the government, there does not seem to be an interest in SaaS. Why? Well, the government agencies feel that SaaS does not relate to them because of security concerns and, most of all, that their long procurement processes don't lead toward SaaS.

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